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Pray for Peace

March 28, 2008


Martha Mensendiek - Japan

During this season of Lent, I pause to reflect on what might be the most crucial message to send to you from Japan at this time.

In this letter I would like to share with you about a recent interfaith peace conference that took place in Tokyo last November.

This conference focused on the Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution, which is in danger of being revised to allow for Japan to establish a military and to participate more fully in war. At present, Japan has a ‘Self Defense Force' and its constitution prevents actual participation in war. This means that Japan has been only supporting the Iraq war effort. (By providing equipment for refueling of US military and its allies.) Leaders of Japan are intending to revise the constitution, to eliminate Article 9. Many people in Asia are weary of Japan becoming an aggressive military power, reminiscent of what lead to World War II.

The peace conference was organized by the National Christian Council in Japan, and called leaders from all over Asia, representing different faiths (Buddhists, Hindu, Muslims, and Christians) to raise consciousness about the meaning and importance of Article 9. The representatives agreed on a statement calling on the Japanese government to keep its peace constitution. It was inspiring to see people from all over the world, and people of various faiths, agree that what the world needs is more nations (or all nations!) to have such a constitution. It reads:

1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.

2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

I was thankful that among the invited participants of the conference were David Vargas, and Cally Rogers-Witte, Co-executives of Global Ministries, and Xiaoling Zhu, Area Secretary for East Asia and the Pacific. It is important that our church in the US work together with fellow Christians and persons of other faiths who are committed to the building of peace. This is all the more important because it is US pressure that is behind the momentum to change the peace constitution here. 

I hope to keep doing what I can to ‘interpret' what is going on in this part of the world. Please join our prayers in Japan for peace.

In Christ,
Martha Mensendiek

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