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30 September 2013 09:00 | Sala della Pace

Hope and Peace, Religions in Japan

Kansho Kayaki

Buddhistische Tendai-Schule, Japan
I am Kansho Kayaki,Chairman of Congress of the Tendai Buddhist Denomination. 
It is such a pleasure that I am able to attend the International Meeting  for Peace this year. I would like to express my appreciation to Community of Sant’Egidio for providing me the opportunity to give my speechhere today.
“Hope and Peace, Religion in Japan” is the theme for this gathering that I was given. 
When I see the daily news about the conflicts referred to as civil wars in the Middle East regions, especially in Syria, conditions of the violent conflictschoke my heart. Moreover, I’m truly saddened by the violence due to terrorist acts which goes on every day in Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.
After the end of World War II, people around the world did not have much hope for peace. Fights broke out in many regions and tragic situations continued. Due to wars and conflicts, many people lost their lives or were injured, and some had to leave their countries and wander from place to place. They must have suffered greatly day after day as refugees. I wonder how long we have to wait to establish a peaceful world. 
In August of 1987, various Japanese religious organizations were united by transcending our own dogmas and philosophical differences.  Japan Conference of Religious Representatives was established. We invited representatives from various religious traditions from abroad and held the first Religious Summit Meeting on Mt. Hiei to pray for world peace. That was the first event of its kind in the Japanese religious history. 
The message from Mt. Hiei at that time was “topray for peace signifies a continuation of the same open spirit in which the Day of Prayer for was observed at Assis.”  And we declared to the world that “peace is not merely the absence of war, but the state of fraternal concord and the realization of the unity of the whole human family. Peace cannotexist without justice and love. Our task is enormous and our own strength is insufficient. Thus we seek to go forward in the power of prayer. We are confident that the Supreme Being hears our trustful prayers and listens to our supplication.” That was a declaration filled with our sincere wishes as Japanese religious representatives who desire peace. 
Looking at current numerous conflicts, some people view religion as the root of antipathy and hatred. You can understand their viewpoint when we see the coverage of conflicts in each area by the media. The media coverage often highlights religious and/or sectarian conflicts. “The self-righteousness of religion is the reason of a war.”  Such a simplistic thought is present. We are troubled by the idea that religionis the cause of terrorism and conflict.  
At the 20th anniversaryof the Religious Summit Meeting on Mt. Hiei in August of 2007, we sent a message to the world that “we must realize that religions are essentially non-confrontational and that ‘confrontation and hatred’ will never lead us to the way of solution. We are firmly convinced that peace will be brought only by ‘reconciliation and forgiveness’ based on mutual understanding from dialogues and love and compassion.”
This idea was clearly present in the communique that religious leaders who attended the gathering had agreed upon. Against the hostage situation in Afghanistan which was an issue of that time, they stated “the act of despising people’s life as a method to solve conflicts only creates hatred and devastation and even results in the further chaos. It will never solve the problem. We believe that releasing the hostages as soon as possible will be the way to shed the light in solving the problem.” 
Even today, however, this sad chain reaction of hatred and revenge has been continued. It appears that peace in the Middle East is far away, and there is no sign of eliminating the threat of terrorism. 
Peace does not mean the absence of war. Injustice, lack of understanding and ignorance in each society brings hatred and deepens antipathy. Poverty and oppression are the origin of any conflict. The economic gap results in discrimination and creates friction between people.  Often religions are used as a front for the problem. We, clergy, must do our very best to create societies where people in the world will be free and live happily with everyone --- a world without wars, poverty, and oppression, so that people can live without fear. 
In order to achieve that, we must continue to work toward peace together by transcending our dogmatic and philosophic positions, deepening our mutual understanding through dialogue. We need to continue the spirit of the Day of Prayer which was started at Assis asHis Holiness John Paul II, called upon world religious leaders in 1986. Our task is substantial. We need to pay serious attention to the situation in the world once again. 
Shakyamuni Buddha said “To all life is dear. Seeing that others feel the same way as oneself, equating others to oneself, refrain from harming or killing.”(Dharmapada130). We must keep these words in our hearts and work in good faith for world peace with courage. 
Those of us who live in Japan underwent much suffering and crisisfrom the East Japan Earthquake two years ago. We have been making great efforts to overcome this tragic experience.  At the time of the earthquake disaster, we received heartfelt help from all over the world. The support came from various nations; rich and poor,nations suffering from conflicts, beyond religious and sectarian differences. We should act upon the meaning of forgoing words; “Seeing that others feel the same way as oneself, equating others to oneself.”In order to save ‘ourselves’ we now must stand up for the realization of peace with courage. Why don’t we take the first step forward together? 
Thank you very much for listening. 




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