Pray with Japan, March 10, 2024

Pray with Japan, March 10, 2024

Lectionary Selection:  Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22

Prayers for Japan

Gracious God, we are reminded by the Psalmist that even in a world of trouble and adversity, we have much to give you thanks for, for you are good, and your love endures forever.

We thank you for the work of our partners in Japan and especially for the witness of the National Christian Council in Japan.

We thank you for the interfaith representative and the advocates for peace who gathered “from east and west, from north and south” to support the values upheld in Japan’s Article 9 and to share their stories of the pain that violence has caused and threatens to portend in places like Okinawa.

As disciples of the Prince of Peace, we seek your guidance in situations of threats and adversity, whether in communities of struggle like Okinawa or in contexts of geo-political confrontation like the saber-rattling between the U.S. and China.

May we be open to your way of love and mercy.

In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.

Mission Moment from Japan

In February, dozens of participants gathered in Okinawa, Japan, for the eighth Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9, co-sponsored by the National Christian Council in Japan. Global Ministries joined representatives of several religious traditions—Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, etc.—all committed to sharing the values of peace and non-violence enshrined in Article 9 of Japan’s constitution.

After World War II, Japan adopted a constitution that stated it would “renounce war” and “the threat or use of force,” including offensive troops. Recent Japanese governments have tried rescinding Article 9 so Japan can build its own military. Many in the U.S. would also like Japan to change its constitution so it can play a more militarized role in regional alliances.

In their present defense treaty, the U.S. provides Japan security in exchange for positioning U.S. bases there. There are around 50,000 U.S. troops throughout Japan, mostly deployed in Okinawa. The largest of the Ryukyu Islands, far south of the mainland, Okinawa has felt distant from mainland Japan not only geographically but also socially and politically. For years, Okinawans have demanded U.S. troops leave, but they feel the mainland is not sensitive to their concerns about the disruption and crime caused by the military. Okinawans feel they bear the burden of the militarized relationship between the U.S. and Japan.

Under pressure, the U.S. has made agreements to begin removing some troops from Okinawa. However, Japan’s central government, having weakened support for Article 9, has been increasing its military footprint in Okinawa. Okinawans fear that with regional tensions mounting between China and the U.S. and its allies, Okinawa will continue to be a hub of hyper-militarization. The attendees of the Article 9 Conference listened to Okinawans’ concerns. They joined them in calling for the preservation of Japan’s model peace constitution and the end to the militarization of their land and the region.

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