Sep 22, 2010

The 36th Justice and Peace National Assembly in Sapporo

Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace has organised their 36th national assembly from 18 to 20 September in Sapporo.  More than 300 people participated in the event which was hosted by Sapporo Diocese.  Main theme of the assembly was "realising the true co-existing society" and particular focus was given to the local issue of human rights in Hokkaido, the history with AINU, the indigenous people in Japan. 

On the first day, we had the first study session in the chapel of Anglican Church in Sapporo near Hokkaido University.  Bishop Uematsu of Hokkaido and the Anglican primate of Japan was also in attendance.  We invited several people from the AINU association of Hokkaido to give us talks on their history and culture.  Mr. Abe, the vice president of the association talked on the history and reality of discrimination against to them in Japanese society and how they had been fighting for their own rights.  Ms.Ogawa and her son gave us wonderful cultural performance.  (Photo above: Ms. Ogawa explaining about their traditional dress)

On the second day after morning Mass in Kita-Jyuichijo parish presided by Bishop Tani, the chairman of the Council, participants were divided into 10 groups, 5 for excursions and 5 for study sessions.

Then on the third day in Kita-Jyuichijo parish, 3 bishops, Bishop Matsuura of Osaka, Bishop Koda of Tokyo and myself gave half an hour presentation respectively on the issue of human rights.  I spoke on the tribal segregation and human life referring to the history of Rwanda and the political manipulation of people which should be considered as one of causes of genocide in 1994.  After the talks, closing Mass was celebrated with more than 500 people.  There were not only those who came for the Justice and Peace assembly but also many more diocesan members who joined the session with 3 bishops and Mass.  Many thanks to the local commission for Justice and Peace who had spent so much time and energy to prepare for the event together with Fr. Shinkai.

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