Speech at the 19th North-East Asia Youth Forum2023年08月21日Speech at the 19th North-East Asia Youth Forum in South Korea from August 21 to 26. It was attended by 20 Korean University students, 20 Chinese students and 7 Japanese students. They really practised “the culture of peace” in the midst of political tension among three countries after the discharge of treated water into the Ocean from the Fukushima Nuclear plant. C hairman of the International IC Association of Japan
Former Vice Minister of Finance
I would like to express my deepest respect to Moral Re-Armament/Initiative of Change Korea, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family of Korea and the Chinese Embassy in South Koreawho made this inspiring initiative possible.
Our world is mired in the COVID pandemic, and simultaneous armed conflicts are happening in many countries including Ukraine. It is said that ‘a new cold war’ or even ‘a new prewar situation’ has come.
Therefore, your theme, ‘Sustainable Development for North East Asia in a Changing World’ is a challenging one. A peaceful environment is a prerequisite. However, political tension in North East Asia is increasing. Therefore, friendship and trust amongst young people are vital.
At the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima on August 6 two elementary school students declared their ‘Commitment to Peace’. They said ‘What does peace mean to you? No conflicts or wars. Accepting differences without discrimination. Everyone smiling without bad-mouthing others or fighting. Finding the good in our friends. Doing what we can to make others smile.’ I hope that participants in this Forum can practice this. (photo 1)
In this same place three months ago today South Korean President YOON Suk Yeol laid flowers to Korean victims of the atomic bomb together with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio KISHIDA.
It took 78 years to make this happen. (photo 2)
It was MRA/IC who helped bring post-war reconciliation between the two countries. In 1957 the Japanese and the Korean delegations attended an MRA conference in the Philippines together. One of them was Mrs. PARK Hyun Sook, a former Cabinet Minister and her husband had been tortured by the Japanese Army and became invalid. Niro HOSHIJIMA who later became the Speaker of the Japanese Parliament and an opposition MP Shidzue KATO apologized to the Korean delegation every day and began to talk to each other at last. Upon their return to Japan, they helped Prime Minister Nobusuke KISHI to give up Japanese property claims which improved the bilateral relationship. (photo 3)
Let me tell you my experience. After graduating from a University, I joined a MRA goodwill mission called “Song of Asia” which consisted of 50 young people from 15 countries from Asia and the Pacific. I travelled with it to 14 countries for two years. In this, I was shocked to know how ignorant I had been about what Japan had done to Asia during the Second World War. Since then I apologized to young people in Asia for what my father’s generation had done. I did it because I felt that rectifying the past was essential to build a better future. (photo 4)
This experience helped me to build a bridge with China. When I became a politician I arranged for the Democratic Party delegation headed by Yukio HATOYAMA to visit a Chinse old lady in Dalian City who had raised a Japanese orphan who had been left behind by their parents. HATOYAMA had attended an MRA conference at Caux, Switzerland and later became the Prime Minister. We thanked her for her generous heart in helping a child of an enemy country. From there we went to meet Vice President HU Jintao in Beijing.
On the Hiroshima atomic bomb monument, the following is written;
‘Sleep in peace. We shall not make the same mistake again’. ‘We’ means the whole of humanity including Japan who had started the war as well as the U.S. who dropped the atomic bomb.
It was Hiroshima Mayor Shinzo HAMAI in 1950 who decided this after attending an MRA conference at Caux to witness the reconciliation between the Germans and French and a visit to Arlington National Cemetery for unknown soldiers in the USA.
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi MATSUI on August 6 this year quoted from Mahatma GANDHI of India, ‘Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of a man’. The Mayor said “To end the current war, the leaders of nations should act by Gandhi's assertion and the Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace which the United Nations General Assembly has adopted. ” (photo 7)
I am sure that this Forum can create a Culture of Peace as was described by Hiroshima students. In this culture, you can formulate ideas on artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies in a digital age, coping with the ageing society with a declining birth rate and creating an environmentally-friendly society.
On the Occasion of the Memorial Ceremony on August 15, the Emperor of Japan spoke as follows:
“Looking back on the long period of post-war peace, reflecting on or regretting our past and bearing in mind the feelings of deep remorse, I earnestly hope that the ravages of war will never again be repeated.”
On the same day at the Liberation Day Event, President Yoon Suk Yeol spoke as follows:
“Korea and Japan are now partners who share universal values and pursue common interests. Korea and Japan will be able to jointly contribute to peace and prosperity across the globe while collaborating and exchanging in a future-oriented manner.”
I strongly believe that Japan, Korea and China can collaborate and exchange in a future-oriented manner.
You, Young people, are free from past shackles and can act as agents of change.
I wish you great success in the Forum and a great future ahead of you all.