scars of war in North-East Asia are slow to heal. Japan and
Russia have not yet been able to agree on a peace treaty. The
Iron Curtain between North and South Korea is still there.
Controversy over wartime atrocities still strain relations
between China and Japan. The June 13-15 meeting of President
Kim Dae-Jung of South Korea and Chairman Kim Jong-Il of North
Korea lit a hope that reunification of the peninsula might
In Caux, the Secretary General of Japan's
Democratic Party, Tsutomu Hata, MP and former Prime Minister,
addressed the bitterness and mistrust left by Japan's 40 years
occupation of Korea: "It is my sincere hope that the two Koreas will succeed in peaceful reunification.
I accept that the main reason why the unfortunate situation
exists on the Korean peninsula is due to Japan's action prior
to and during the Second World War. I apologise for this from
my heart to the people of both countries. As a politician I
promise that Japan will assist in peaceful re-unification and
"I accept that the main reason
why the unfortunate situation exists on the Korean peninsula
is due to Japan's action prior to and during the Second World
War... As a politician I promise that Japan will assist in
peaceful re-unification and reconciliation."
Among the Koreans listening to him were
the former Korean Ambassador to Japan, Kim Tae-Zhee, and a
leader of Korea's Buddhists, the Venerable Mother Park Chung-Soo,
Director of the Won Buddhist Temple at Kangnam in Seoul and
also of the Won Buddhist Parish of Pyongyang in the North.
Her story helped the conference participants understand the
depth of feeling characterising many Koreans' attitude to Japan: "Korea was oppressed by Japan for 36 years. I experienced the agony of it in my
childhood. Koreans worked hard in the fields and harvested
the products. Yet our people were not able to eat rice. Sometimes
we got over our hunger by eating the inner smooth part of the
pine tree. I came to hate the Japanese unconditionally.
" When she came to Caux in 1987 she met Japanese who were different
to the kind of people she experienced in her childhood. "They were humble and would regret the past. One day, when I was going on a picnic,
a young Japanese woman made the packed lunch for me. Changes began to take place
in my heart and gradually I was able to give up my hatred completely. Mountain
House, Caux, was a smelting furnace to melt away my hatred, anger and resentment.
I greatly appreciated Mr Hata's sincere apology at the opening of this session."
Mother Park Chung-Soo has initiated and supported humanitarian
aid projects in 44 countries, raising some 20 million US dollars
in South Korea. Her latest venture is to help the orphans and
malnourished people in North Korea. "I
believe that my efforts to help my brothers and sisters in
North Korea will contribute to the peaceful unification of
a divided Korea."
A workshop on Sri Lanka portrayed life
and work for reconciliation amidst war and conflict. Rohini
De Mel and engineer Roshan Dodanwela, who is now working with
AfR, gave the historical background and outlined the current
situation in the country. Constance Chabrière from France,
who has worked for UNICEF in Sri Lanka during the last two
years, described projects to support children affected by the
war. Amidst the booming guns, parents hope and strive for a