Religions for Peace Japan Holds Memorial Service for Disaster Victims
On March 21 the Japanese Committee of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (Religions for Peace Japan) held a memorial service for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, with prayers for reconstruction in the disaster areas. The service was held at Dainenji temple, of the Jodo sect of Japanese Buddhism, in the town of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture. The event was part of the organization's new campaign to promote moral support for reconstruction in the disaster areas.
Some 60 people from member organizations of Religions for Peace Japan and local religious organizations took part. Rissho Kosei-kai was represented by President Nichiko Niwano, who is also president of Religions for Peace Japan; Rev. Katsukuni Kobayashi, minister of the Kamaishi Dharma Center in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture; Rev. Masahiro Nemoto, director of the External Affairs Department; Rev. Sadahide Murayama, director of the Ohu Division; Rev. Kiyoko Abe, director of the Hokuriku Division; and seven directors from other divisions.
The service opened with an address by President Niwano. Describing Religions for Peace Japan's financial support for the disaster victims, he stressed the importance of planning painstaking measures for the short, medium, and long terms. He said Japan's national ethos is based on unity, consideration for others, and mutual support - ideals of all religions. In conclusion he said, "As people of faith, we will continue to offer ourselves in good encounters to the people around us, and in a spirit of harmony, let us steadily help in the efforts of reconstruction."
After that, representatives of nine member organizations of Religions for Peace Japan proceeded to the altar by turns and led prayers according to their rituals. They were leaders of traditional Japanese Buddhist sects and Christian, Islam, and Shinto organizations. They included the Most Ven. Eiin Yasuda, an elder from the head temple, Yakushiji, of the Hosso sect of Japanese Buddhism, and Mr. Mimasaka Higuchi, executive director of the Japan Muslim Association. Representing Rissho Kosei-kai, Rev. Murayama led the sutra recitation with Rev. Kobayashi and Rev. Abe as subleaders and offered prayers before the altar.
All the participants offered a moment of silent prayer at 2:46 p.m., the time of the massive earthquake, facing in the direction of the disaster areas. After that, the closing address was given by Rev. Shuichi Ogayu, vice-priest of the temple Dainenji, and vice-president of Kamaishi Bukkyokai, a local relief network set up by Buddhist temples in Kamaishi City soon after the disaster.
Dainenji served as a shelter for local disaster victims and a base for relief activities. It also kept the ashes of those who died in the disaster, including the ashes of its own parishioners and parishioners of Buddhist temples of other sects.
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