Representatives of about 60 Arigatou International partners and supporters from around the world were invited to Japan to participate in commemorative events on 11 and 12 October for the 60th anniversary of Myochikai, the Buddhist movement that established Arigatou International in 1990. Religious leaders, adult and youth members of the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC), and members of the Planning Committee for the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children and of the Interfaith Council on Ethics Education joined around 12,000 Japanese guests for the celebrations.
Former Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama honored the commemorative events with his presence. He congratulated Myochikai on its 60th anniversary and Arigatou on its 20th anniversary and expressed great appreciation for their achievements in the work for world peace.
On behalf of the Buddhist community, Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, Founder and President, Sarvodaya Movement-Sri Lanka, congratulated Myochikai and Arigatou Foundation for its achievements for peace and harmony and for its focus on the wellbeing and rights of the world’s children.
HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal congratulated Myochikai and Arigatou in a video recorded message, referring to the many disasters we see in the world underlining that the time has come to build a route of ideas which bridges the gap between talking, thinking and doing.
Congratulatory remarks were delivered on both days. A message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon focused on the important role played by the GNRC, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The message from UNESCO by Mr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education, highlighted the importance of education as a mechanism for peace, applauding the ”Learning to Live Together” manual for teachers and educators, which has been widely disseminated, including through UNESCO’s Associated Schools Project Network and non-governmental organizations. In a message from the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, expressed appreciation for the initiatives put in place to make a change for children and for doing so in an interfaith context. In his message from the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, His Eminence Cardinal Tauran, conveyed that it gives hope to see an organization so committed to make a change for better world for children and he sent his blessings for the continued work together with people of different religious traditions working for the world’s children.
In his address on behalf of the guests from the international community, His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, Ecumenical Patriarchate and President of the Conference of European Churches, acknowledged that the faith communities are arguably the most pervasive and powerful force to play a pivotal role in people’s personal lives and also for social and global mobilization to promote global peace. He expressed admiration for the focus on nurturing children – in their physical, mental and emotional health – in cooperation with agencies of the United Nations, for the sake of healing the diverse wounds of refugee populations throughout the world.
GNRC Youth offered a moving dramatic presentation to the 6,000 attendees on both days. Twenty young women and men from the GNRC Youth network met for a two-day pre-meeting prior to the commemorative events. They focused on the challenges that children and youth face in their societies. The youth identified four specific areas that need to be addressed: discrimination: child labour, addiction and violence. In their performance on the stage, the GNRC Youth used costume, pantomime, posters, music, and dance to underscore that even the smallest steps can make a change in the lives of children and youth and that they are willing to take responsibility in their various contexts and communities.
The commemorative events also served as the occasion for the official launch in Japan of the most recent Arigatou International initiative, the World Day of Prayer and Action for Children. The World Day was celebrated in 2009 in 22 countries, and the Japanese participants were glad to be added to the growing list of countries promoting this global initiative.
The full messages can be accessed by clicking on the links provided in the text above and the box below.