Rissho Kosei-kai Leaders Attend Ceremony Marking 24th Anniversary
of Religious Summit on Mount Hiei
The 24th Interreligious Gathering of Prayer for World Peace was observed August 4 at Enryakuji temple on Mount Hiei in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, under the auspices of the Tendai Association of Religious Cooperation for International Peace and Enryakuji temple. About 900 religious leaders took part from Japan and other countries. Rissho Kosei-kai was represented by Rev. Yasutaka Watanabe, chair of the board of trustees; Rev. Koichi Sono, director of the western Japan dissemination area; and Rev. Kenichiro Nakamura, minister of the Kyoto Dharma Center. The Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church was represented by Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, apostolic nuncio to Japan.
During the ceremony, Most Ven. Kojun Handa, the 256th head priest of the Tendai Buddhist Denomination, and several priests of Enryakuji recited the Heart Sutra. Most Ven. Handa then offered a prayer for peace. Expressing concern over the natural disasters and armed conflicts occurring around the world, he quoted Saicho, the founder of the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism, who urged "forgetting the self and benefiting others." Most Ven. Handa declared that the spirit of selflessness advocated by Saicho is essential for world peace.
For the subsequent prayer for peace, 11 representatives of Buddhism, Christianity, Shinto, Sectarian Shinto, and Japan's new religions mounted the platform. Chair Watanabe represented Shinshuren (Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan). They and the other participants prayed in silence as the peace bell tolled.
Most Rev. Yukei Matsunaga, the 412th chief abbot of the temple Kongobuji, the head temple of Koyasan Shingon Buddhism, in Wakayama Prefecture, then delivered an address. He said Japan has enjoyed peace since the Second World War owing to the sacrifices of the many people who died in that war and to the determination of the Japanese people that Japan should never be at war again. He then emphasized the responsibility of people of religion in taking the lead in protecting the environment.
The first religious summit meeting on Mount Hiei took place in 1987 to keep alive the spirit of the Day of Prayer for World Peace, held in 1986 in Assisi, Italy, at the initiative of Pope John Paul II. The anniversary has been celebrated annually since then on Mount Hiei.
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