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Summer 2007

August 27, 2007

Martha Mensendiek - Japan

We have been having a particularly hot and humid summer this year in Japan. One friend described being out in the hot rays of the sun as actually being painful!

Kyoto, where I live is known to be one of the worst places to be in the summer, due to its beastly humidity. I have been to many places known for hot weather around the world, but I have never experienced anything as debilitating as the summers here. Of course Kyoto is better known for its rich history and the many temples and gardens, making it one of the top tourist destinations in Japan. Indeed, it is a beautiful city to visit and to live in as well. 

But these days, ever since the convention on climate change ten years ago, "Kyoto" refers to the Kyoto Protocol, which assigned emission limitations for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to the signatory nations.

Living outside of the United States, I find it hard sometimes to explain our country's failure to cooperate with international treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol. Some 169 countries have ratified the agreement, with the notable exception of the United States and Australia.

Another example is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. I teach about this in my social work classes, and my students are amazed to learn that the United States is one of only two countries that have not ratified this convention. (The other country is Somalia.) Apparently one of the reasons the US will not ratify it is because the convention prohibits capital punishment for children. (Children are defined as under the age of 18.)

Of course the US is not the only country with contradictions.  But the credibility of the US is tenuous when it fails to cooperate with the international community in solving global problems or maintaining a standard of human rights.

My prayer today is for the United States to earn the respect of the world by working together with the international community - to help save our earth and our children.

In Peace,
Martha Mensendiek
Martha is a missionary who serves at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan through the Council on Cooperative Mission.  Martha is a Teacher of social welfare.

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