Women's Board of Religions for Peace Japan Sends Mission to Disaster Areas
The Women's Board of Religions for Peace Japan sent a mission November 7-8 to areas of Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures devastated by the March earthquake and tsunami to discuss religionists' role in recovery efforts. Ten people from five member organizations of Religions for Peace Japan took part. Rissho Kosei-kai was represented by Rev. Yoshie Otomo, head of the Teaching and Administrative Group, and Rev. Kyoko Hirano, minister of the Edogawa Dharma Center in Tokyo.
On November 7 they visited the temples Motsuji and Chusonji in Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture, which are head temples of the Tendai denomination in the Tohoku region. At Chusonji, after touring the temple facilities, they conferred with Ven. Shunwa Yamada, the chief priest. He said Buddhist monks became involved in emergency relief efforts soon after the disaster. Pointing out that religious elements are crucial to spiritual care and the solution of problems related to peace and equality, he said religionists should have a clear awareness of their roles. Referring to the "magnanimous compassion" of the Buddha, he stressed the importance of religionists' empathy in sharing others' joys and sorrows as if they were their own.
On the following day, the mission visited the Nobiru district of Higashimatsushima City, Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated by the tsunami in March. They prayed for the victims according to the rites of their own religions. In the afternoon they visited a nursing home affiliated with the local nonprofit organization Tsukurumura, which operates an alternative school of music. Its director, Mr. Yoshitoshi Ameya, explained Tsukurumura's educational policy and the process of establishing the home, which was damaged by the tsunami before it could open in April. He described how students from the music school helped rescue local residents after the disaster struck.
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