Former Vietnamese Refugees Visit Disaster Areas to Repay Debt of Gratitude
Fifty Vietnamese Buddhists, most of whom came to Japan as refugees in the 1970s, and stayed or moved on to North America, Europe, or Australia, visited Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures in northeastern Japan June 1-3, where many cities and villages were devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11. They came to repay the kind support they had received as refugees from many Japanese, by praying with the disaster victims for the early reconstruction of their communities.
The group included Buddhist monks and other Vietnamese residents of Japan who are members of the International Buddhist Congregation of Rissho Kosei-kai (IBC) in Tokyo. In the 1970s, Rissho Kosei-kai aided Vietnamese boat people who were staying in refugee camps across Japan. Rissho Kosei-kai has since promoted cultural exchanges with Vietnamese residents through its IBC activities.
The group toured the Wakabayashi area of the city of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture on June 2 and visited Shorinji, a Buddhist temple sheltering disaster victims, to offer sympathy and encouragement to the victims. The group moved to the city of Fukushima in Fukushima Prefecture on June 3 and visited Entsuji temple to hold a memorial service for the earthquake and tsunami victims with the temple's chief priest and its lay supporters.
After the group returned to Tokyo the evening of June 3, it attended a briefing by the IBC in Fumon Hall at Rissho Kosei-kai's headquarters. Rissho Kosei-kai was represented by its advisor, Rev. Norio Sakai. The group's leader, Most Ven. Thich Quang Ba, from Australia and a consultant to the International Association of Buddhist Universities, said that as the group toured the disaster areas, he hoped its prayers would relieve the suffering and anxiety of all the victims. He also said he and fellow Vietnamese Buddhists would continue their support, and they hoped for the area's rapid reconstruction.
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