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Gijun Sugitani

Tendai Buddhist Denomination, Japan
 biography

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

    Japan has experienced frequently earthquakes, but never as the tragedy of exactly 6 months ago.  At 2:46 PM this past March 11th a huge earthquake with a Magnitude 9, the largest ever recorded, occurred.  The epicenter was in the Pacific Ocean off the Tohoku region. Many buildings were collapsed by the intense quake, and over thirty cities and towns, located by the sea, were wiped out due to the tsunami triggered immediately after the quake. This tidal wave assailed 500 km north and south along the pacific shoreline.  After the water receded, as far as the eye could see there were the piles of debris. I was a speechless in witnessing the state of the disaster. The number of dead and missing people is over 20,000, and at the present, after six month, the search for dead bodies is still going on.

    An enormous disaster and, at the same time, an enormous challenge for Japanese people: how to rebuild our future? The people in those areas shared the little food they had, helped each other and waited until rescue arrived. Many volunteer, individuals and organizations, moved in. A discovery of a large and sincere, internal and overseas, solidarity. It made us realize how much people around the world were concerned about the victims in Japan, and I was moved by it. Among those relief funds, some came from people with limited resources and from children.

    We have learned a great deal from this massive earthquake. That is, human beings have to be more humble regarding nature and, at the same time, that we are a part of large family and we need to live together, we are bound to live together.

    No, our future is not in the “technology”. The problems at Fukushima Nuclear Reactors were a man-made disaster. Our future is not the security of the economic system. Our future is in the wisdom of learning the art of living together, as it is written in the bottom of our old religious tradition. One world, one human family, one large heart: love and compassion for living together in an harmonious peace.
 
    In the midst of confusion like this disaster in Japan, the ties between humans make the people rise up from deep despair. That is, let me say, the spirit of Assisi, the teaching of togetherness, something that the current society needs most.

    Thank you very much.