Remark by the Chair of RfP Japan on the 50th anniversary

Remark by the Most Rev. N. Makoto Uematsu, the Chair of Religions for Peace(RfP)Japan, on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of WCRP

 Tokyo, October 16, 2020 - It gives me great pleasure to be able to share a prayer for the 50th anniversary of WCRP with you today, before the symposium on "The Declaration of Climate Emergency and the Role of Religious Leaders." I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all of you who remember this time and join in the prayer from various parts of Japan and around the world.

 I was deeply moved by the video of the first WCRP World Convention. WCRP was inaugurated exactly 50 years ago today. It was started at 9:35 a.m. on October 16, 1970, with the prayers of about 300 religious leaders gathered at the first World Convention in Kyoto. Most of the figures in the video have already passed away and rested in peace.

 The year 1970 was just 25 years after the end of World War II. Not only had the scars of the war not healed, but the United States, the then Soviet Union, and other countries were competing hard to develop nuclear weapons. Nuclear tests had been conducted frequently. Newly weapons had been developed to be used in conflicts around the world. Tensions were high on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and proxy wars were taking place in Asia and Africa.

 50 years ago, our predecessors stood up against the devastation of the war. They were also compelled to stand up to witness the agony of the people in the countries where the fighting was still going on even in those days. War takes lives. War hurts people's hearts deeply. War brings a lot of tears and sorrow. War destroys people's lives and carves hatred and revenge in their hearts. And in most cases, it is the innocent people such as women, children, and the elderly who suffer the most.

 It is extremely difficult to secure peace between nations because ruthless "national interests" and uncompromising "national identities" often make obstacles. Governments and politicians are eager not to show even the slightest weakness in military and economic affairs.

 50 years ago, our predecessors stood up with the faith of religious leaders, which are not dominated by such national interests or national identities. All religions value human life as precious and above anything else. Human life is not created by us but is given to us by the Absolute, God, and Buddha, who is beyond us. We are kept alive in the love and compassion of that Absolute. Therefore, we must cherish all our lives. Religions and religious leaders have no borders. We feel that the lives of people around the world are connected. Religious leaders should live in poverty and humility as individuals who know their weaknesses and limitations. In that regard, the religions of the world can work together. I believe it was the enthusiasm of religious leaders around the world to work together for world peace that made it possible to establish WCRP.

 Today, WCRP has spread all over the world. And I am moved by the fact that WCRP was born in Kyoto, Japan. 50 years ago, we did not have the modern communication and transportation means of today. And there was not much interest in interfaith dialogue. At a time with such a background, the first WCRP World Congress was held. I would like to express my deepest respect and inexpressible gratitude to those 300 participants gathered in Kyoto, who came from all over Japan and the world despite many difficulties, in response to the call, with devotion to the cause of world peace, enthusiasm, and a sense of mission.

 WCRP has been walking the path toward world peace honestly and steadily since then. We have been working on new efforts from time to time while facing various challenges.

 Nuclear abolition is a central issue that we have been working on since the beginning. And we are also working on a wide range of issues such as refugee, climate change, support for victims of natural disasters, human trafficking, education for reconciliation, fellowship programs with religious leaders in Korea and China, and advocacy for peace cooperation with politicians. I believe that one of the great blessings of WCRP is that each of these efforts has allowed me to reflect on interfaith dialogue and my faith.

 I would like to express my deepest gratitude to all the people who have prayed for, supported, and cooperated with WCRP over the past 50 years. And I sincerely hope that you will continue to keep WCRP in your prayers. Thank you very much.

Chair of RfP Japan
The Most Rev. N. Makoto Uematsu
(The Primate of The Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church of Japan)