All-China Youth Federation Delegates Meet with Soka Gakkai Youth from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa
[This visit by the ACYF was the latest in a regular series of exchange visits with the Soka Gakkai Youth Division, beginning in 1985.].
On April 3, a delegation from the All-China Youth Federation (ACYF), led by Zhang Xuejun, vice chair of the Children's Work Committee, traveled to Hiroshima City, which is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing (August 6, 1945). The ACYF delegates and Japanese Soka Gakkai youth representatives placed flowers at a Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park monument for atomic bomb victims. The delegation then visited the Soka Gakkai Hiroshima Peace Center to meet with Soka Gakkai youth representatives from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa, three areas that suffered the heaviest toll in human lives during World War II. Soka Gakkai youth reported on their peace activities in their respective areas and representatives of ACYF and the Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference spoke, respectively.
In a keynote speech, Jiangsu Province Youth Federation Vice Secretary General Liu Canming said that while he felt fortunate to visit Hiroshima, a city symbolizing peace, he also felt a sense of responsibility for being a protagonist of peace, culture and friendship. He pointed to the atomic bombing that took place on August 6, 1945, in which many civilians lost their lives, as a tragic event in humanity's history. Hailing from Nanjing, he also felt compelled to mention the Nanjing Massacre--the mass murder of Chinese people committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). Mr. Liu spoke of how the Chang Jiang River ran red with the blood of his fellow countrymen. The people of both Hiroshima and Nanjing have suffered tremendously from the indignities of war and therefore share a common desire for lasting peace and happiness. Remarking that this year is the 60th anniversary of victory against facism, Mr. Liu underscored the importance of correctly reflecting on history and the lessons and wisdom it provides for the sake of advancing toward the future. He expressed his conviction that if the people of China and Japan work together to strengthen exchanges, they would be able to contribute to world peace and the future of Sino-Japanese friendship.
Mr. Zhang explained that in the Chinese language, the characters that comprise words often have deeper meanings. "Peace"--"heiwa," in Japanese, and heping, in Chinese--is expressed by the same two characters, in both Japanese and Chinese, albeit interposed. The character for "wa," or "he," in Chinese, means solidarity and composure, while "hei," or "ping," in Chinese, means stability and safety. He proceeded to share his "four steps" to achieving peace. The first is for all humanity to link arms and take action toward the future as members of the "global village." Second is self-reflection. With a clear perspective of history and courageous self-examination, humanity can progress. The third step is exchange based on dialogue. And the fourth is providing children with unbiased education and therefore handing down to posterity a correct view of history. From the standpoint of a Chinese proverb, Mr. Zhang said applying the four steps means "One makes less mistakes when one is strict with oneself." When we treat others with the same kindness that we wish upon ourselves, we can establish eternal bonds of friendship.
Soka Gakkai Youth Peace Conference (YPC) Chair Kimiaki Kawai expressed his view of the importance of strengthening respect and appreciation for China and its people with a correct perspective of history, because mutual trust is a basis for enduring friendship between China and Japan. As a Japanese, he expressed deep remorse for the past atrocities Japan committed against China during the war and his desire for world peace. Mr. Kawai affirmed that the YPC peace movement is based on succeeding and promoting the peace legacy of the first three Soka Gakkai presidents. He called on the participants to work together to further develop heart-to-heart exchanges among Chinese and Japanese youth for a lasting friendship between their countries.
Soka Gakkai Young Women's Peace and Culture Conference Chair Noriko Kamijo spoke about her impression of visiting China three years ago and meeting with Chinese women representatives. She was touched by their efforts to surmount painful memories and sow future seeds of peace. Quoting a Chinese saying, "Do not forget the past but instead make it a lesson for the future," she stressed that the Japanese should take this spirit to heart. Ms. Kamijo expressed her resolve to work for peace by waging an inner-motivated spiritual struggle against forces that threaten human dignity.
The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki can never forget the horrors of the atomic bombings. The Okinawa people will eternally remember the Battle of Okinawa and the "Storm of Iron" firing mercilessly upon the backs of innocent victims. Likewise, it is only natural that the Chinese people can never forget the egregious atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II. The Japanese and Chinese youth were able to mutually affirm that a forward-looking orientation means not averting our eyes from the truth, but to learn from our painful past so that together we can create a genuine peace.
[Note: This article draws from Seikyo Shimbun articles dated April 4 and 11, 2005.]