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Mgr Kikuchi: The Church in Japan praying for peace, while political leaders fuel tensions

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Niigata (AsiaNews) – With tensions and threats of war between North Korea and the United States growing, the Japanese Church devoted ten days pf prayer to peace, starting on 6 August, the anniversary of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Mgr Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi, bishop of Niigata (300 kilometres north of Tokyo) and president of Caritas Japan, is convinced – along with many of his fellow countrymen and women – that there will be no military conflict because of costs and destructiveness to everyone. However, the “new political leaders” concerned – Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, Shinzo Abe – are using rising tensions for their own ends. Still, Mgr Kikuchi hopes that collaboration between the bishops of Japan and South Korea can push their respective governments towards a diplomatic solution through dialogue.

Past few months, security tension among counties in northeast Asia has been growing dramatically, even though such tension has been existing in the area since the time of Korean War, as we have been witnessing emergence of new political leaders in North Korea, the US and Japan who have been fueling the existing fire.

It used to be the role of the leader of China to control the situation to prevent any unnecessary military conflicts as strong patron of North Korean leadership but it seems that China’s influence over North Korea has been diminishing today.

Now it is quite common understanding among majority in Japan that both North Korea and the US will not, even though their leaders have been threatening to take military action against each other, go ahead to choose such an aggressive military solution since such action will bring only devastating results on Korean peninsula and also on Japan which will not be the benefit of the US and will be the end of existence for North Korea itself.

However, the actual problem is that, in South Korea and in Japan, militant section or hard liner and patriotic section of each countries are taking advantage of the situation to push their cause through and try to gain support from majority of the population. Similar situation of conflict has been happening again and again in this area but the present one is much more taken seriously by many as the both the US and North Korean leaders are unpredictable. I think that the present tension in the area has been exaggerated much more than reality.

Unfortunately, present Japanese government has been also taking advantage of the tension to concretize their cause of changing the pacifist constitution and create public opinion to allow Japanese army to take pre-emptive action which is not allowed by the present constitution.

At this moment, from 6th August which is Hiroshima memorial to 15th August, Japanese Catholic Church is in the Ten-days of prayer for Peace. All over Japan, Catholic communities are praying for Peace during this 10 days and also organising study sessions and also joining other civil groups for demonstrations.

For this occasion, on behalf of entire Catholic Bishops in Japan, Archbishop Joseph Takami, the president of the Bishops’ Conference issued a statement. In the statement he said as follows;

“I want to reaffirm my support for the right to peaceful existence guaranteed by the Constitution of Japan enacted 70 years ago. Peace cannot be built with military power. Especially now, I appeal to the Japanese government and people to practice a sincere and persistent dialogue for the peace of Northeast Asia and the world, not responding militarily to threats by neighboring countries or terrorism.”

I seriously hope that Japanese government will take sincere initiative to involve all parties of this crisis in dialogue to find diplomatic solution.

At this moment, Japanese Bishops has not initiated cooperative action with Korean Bishops as such. However, in coming November, we will have joint meeting of both conferences in Kagoshima, Japan for 3 days so that we may discuss about possibility to lobby both government to take peaceful way of dialogue as the only solution for peaceful coexistence in this part of Asia.

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