Aug 13, 2016

Ten days for Peace: Is peace really possible?

Catholic Church in Japan has been observing ten days for Peace from 6 August to 15 August since Pope John Paul II had visited Japan in 1981. Why it is from 6 to 15 August? It is because Hiroshima was bombed by the atomic bomb on 6 August, 1945 and the government accepted the unconditional surrender to allied forces on 15 August of the same year. And Nagasaki was also bombed by the atomic bomb on 9 August of the same year. Experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is enough for Japanese people to remember misery and atrocity of war and also the experience to accept unconditional surrender which was unavoidable at that time is also enough to remember hardships and great loss people had experienced during and after the WWII.

It is rightly correct to insist and assert that war has to be avoided or nuclear weapons should be abolished based on our negative experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And needles to say but the Japanese constitution in article 9 stipulates the government to outlaw war as a means to settle international disputes. But because we often contemplate about Peace based on our kind of victim mentality, our claim for peace has been just saying "No" to actual fighting and do not go deep into the real meaning of Peace. What is Peace? That has to be asked to all of us in Japan today.

In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in 489, it is said that "In biblical revelation, peace is much more than the simple absence of war; it represents the fullness of life"

Going back to the Pacem in Terris of the Pope John XXIII, he began the encyclical by saying, "Peace on Earth, which man throughout the ages has so longed for and sought after, can never be established, never guaranteed, except by the diligent observance of the divinely established order."

So what we have to strive for is to find out the divinely established order. Maybe we may say that we have to try to find out the world which God desires for.

That reminds us that if we seek for Peace to be established today, then just calling for "No War" is not enough but, rather, we have to tackle with wide range of issues which prevents the divine order to be realized. Any kind of human misery existing in today's world is preventing realization of the divine order. Any kind of injustice existing in today's world is preventing it. Any restriction of freedom is preventing it. Any kind of alienation or exclusion is preventing it. Any environmental degradation is preventing it. So many issues to be tackled to establish real peace.

Because of recent growing tension between our neighboring countries, such as over territorial disputes or by actual missile tests, we do hear some voices calling more tough measures should be taken by the Japanese government. And that voices are getting stronger. It seems that some voices are calling immediate solution over these situations.

Then we should remember what was written in the Pope Francis' "Evangelii Gaudium" in 222 & 223. "Time is greater than space."

"This principle enables us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results. It helps us patiently to endure difficult and adverse situations, or inevitable changes in our plans. It invites us to accept the tension between fullness and limitation, and to give a priority to time."

What was said by the Mayor of Nagasaki, Mr. Taue on 9 August during the Peace memorial Service is really telling us something to be considered. Though he was talking about abolish of nuclear weapons, what he said was the general principle of establishing Peace.

"The history of nuclear weapons is also the history of distrust.
In the midst of this distrust between nations, countries with nuclear weapons have developed evermore destructive weapons with increasingly distant target ranges. There are still over 15,000 nuclear warheads in existence, and there is the ever-present danger that they may be used in war, by accident, or as an act of terrorism.

One way of stemming this flow and turning the cycle of distrust into a cycle of trust is to continue with persistent efforts to create trust. In line with the peaceful ethos of the Constitution of Japan, we have endeavored to spread trust throughout the world by contributing to global society through efforts such as humanitarian aid. In order that we never again descend into war, Japan must continue to follow this path as a peaceful

Though I do not deny the right of self defense by Japan, what we have to pursue today is not to enhance our military capability to establish adequate deterrent forces against any possible military advance but to foster the cycle of trust among nations. For that, much more diplomatic efforts are needed. I really expect our diplomats to work harder and tactically to try to involve more countries into the cycle of trust. Also for us, Catholics in Japan, to try to work much more to disseminate the idea of true peace, the Peace of God so that this country to be a champion of the integral human development in today's world to realize the divine order.