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Takashi Ago

Oomoto, Japan

 Saluton, karaj gesamideanoj! – Greetings, dear friends!

At the headquarters of Oomoto in the town of Kameoka in Kyoto Prefecture stands a monument which we call the ‘Esperanto monument’.  Erected fifty years ago to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Association for the Popularisation of Esperanto (EPA), an organisation affiliated to Oomoto, it bears the inscription, in the international language Esperanto, ‘Unu Dio, Unu Mondo, Unu Interlingvo’ (‘One God, One World, One Common Language’).
This maxim concisely expresses the aims of Oomoto’s national and international activities for the realisation of the ideal world, which we call ‘the world of Miroku’.  We Oomoto followers believe that in this increasingly globalised twenty-first century, when the lives of men and women in each country cannot exist in isolation, these universal activities are ever more important.  
At the same time, I hope that this maxim of Oomoto can serve as a concrete proposal in addressing the main theme of the present meeting, ‘The Courage to Hope: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue’.
Firstly, about Unu Dio (One God).
In 1925, the Co-Founder of Oomoto, Onisaburo Deguchi, formed a ‘World League of Religions’ in Beijing, China, together with Chinese Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and others, as an endeavour to promote world peace.  This was an embodiment of interfaith activity based on Oomoto’s fundamental principles of ‘universal love and brotherhood’ and ‘the common source of religions’.  
At the first meeting, Onisaburo spoke about the need for solidarity among religious people, stressing that, ‘in order to bring about the peace and happiness of the world’s people, the first priority is harmony between people’s hearts, and to bring this about all of us must join together and work together as brothers and sisters for the divine will.  If world unity is attempted by military force or by the power of authority, so that one side is beaten down by the other, conflict will not cease and lasting peace cannot be hoped for.  Unity must be promoted by a spiritual, religious, and moral process.’  
At their innermost core, all true religions of the world can be traced back to ‘One God’ (Supreme Being), even though their teachings may be expressed and explained in different ways.  In the 1920s, this philosophy of the ‘common source of religions’ was not generally accepted.  In this global age of the 21st century, however, we can see that many have come to sympathise with such a view, in Japan and abroad.
Meanwhile, concern persists about a ‘clash of civilisations’; we call for the urgent reconciliation, cooperation and organised interaction between religions, and, ultimately, we hope for the early realisation of a ‘religious United Nations’ or world league of religions.
Secondly, about Unu Mondo (One World):
This is the ‘world federation movement’ which was advocated after the Second World War by scientists such as Einstein, and was embraced by Sumiko Deguchi, the second Spiritual Leader of Oomoto, in 1949.  
Immediately after the war, when asked by a newspaper reporter for his thoughts on Japan’s defeat, Onisaburo Deguchi replied as follows:
‘Japan has now been totally stripped of its armaments, but this contains a precious mission for us as pioneers of world peace.  Real world peace will be achieved only when all the world’s armaments have been eliminated, and that time is now approaching.’
Since the war, based on the experience of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and believing that such horrors must not be repeated, Japanese religionists have joined in interreligious activities for world federation transcending political and national boundaries, aiming at a just and lasting peace free from war.
On 2 August 2005, the Japanese Diet adopted a historic resolution calling for world federation to be made a goal of national policy, as follows: ‘In accordance with the ideal of lasting peace espoused in the Japanese Constitution, and as the only country to have been subjected to nuclear attack, we must make the greatest efforts to bring about a future of sustainable coexistence for humankind, joining hands with all people of the world, by abolishing nuclear weapons, eschewing all wars, and exploring paths towards the formation of a world federation.’
World federation is the ultimate road map for putting an end to the constant wars which have formed the history of humankind.  Its concrete vision of the future assumes the total renunciation of war as a means of resolving international disputes, and replacing military might with the rule of law as its basis.  
Dealing with the common problems of humanity, such as population, resources, environment and security, and advancing the welfare of humankind, will involve the partial transfer of state sovereignty to bring about a world federal government, the enactment of world laws, the establishment of a world people’s congress and a world court, and military disarmament and the establishment of security by a police-type force, maintained under world control.  It is a most welcome development that the International Criminal Court has already been realised by the Rome Statute.  
In the global age in which humanity finds itself today, in order to ensure our survival into the future, we need the wisdom to construct a framework for a federal world order where maximum respect is given to each nation’s autonomy, with the aim of a future society of peaceful coexistence, where the rule of might gives way to the rule of law, and where cultural diversity is mutually recognised.
Thirdly, about Unu Interlingvo (One International Common Language).
The movement for the popularisation of Esperanto, the international language published in 1887, is not a movement aimed at making the world uniformly speak Esperanto alone.  Its main aim is to use Esperanto as a just and neutral common language in international communication, while respecting the national languages of all nations.  
The creator of Esperanto, Ludoviko Lazaro Zamenhof, was born in 1859 in Bialystok in the east of present-day Poland, then a part of the Russian Empire.  His parents were both Jewish, and his father was a teacher of German.  Polish was the language spoken in the Zamenhof home, but outside in the Jewish quarter Yiddish was spoken, while at school the lessons were in Russian.  
At that time, Bialystok was a melting pot in which, as well as Poles, lived German engineers, Jewish merchants and Russian government employees.  In this environment, it seems, heart-to-heart communication among the residents was lacking.  
This was because not only did they speak different languages, but they also followed different religions.  Moreover, exposure to the advancing industrial revolution led to strife in the town between rich and poor.  
In such circumstances, Dr. Zamenhof could not think of his international common language simply as a convenient tool for communication, as a matter simply of combining sounds and letters.
A true international common language should be a means of preventing prejudice and discrimination and promoting reconciliation between nations.  Harmony between individuals and between nations, he thought, could not be imposed by the ruling class, but would be brought about by solidarity among the weak and the oppressed.  
Tadao Umesao, the first Director of the National Museum of Ethnology in Japan and an Esperantist, wrote in the October 1983 issue of the linguistic journal Gengo ‘It is intolerable that we should accept a situation where a small group of languages which boast large numbers of speakers is able to dominate and exclude the speakers of minor languages....  I believe that above and beyond its great practicality, Esperanto should develop as a spiritual movement for the whole of humankind.’
Onisaburo Deguchi, the Co-Founder of Oomoto, adopted Esperanto into Oomoto in June 1923.  He expressed his ideas in the following verses:
I hear the voice of Esperanto echoing through the world
   with no regard for borders between nations or people
The Esperanto language will spread far and wide
   the holy word of universal love
Friends, let us make haste to spread Esperanto
   and illuminate this dark world!
In June this year, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Association for the Popularisation of Esperanto.  Bonds of friendship were strengthened at the international celebration, an event attended by 300 people from Japan and 35 people from 6 overseas countries.  
In connection with the main theme of this International Meeting, ‘Courage to hope: religions and cultures in dialogue’, we pray that we may continue our activities, hoping that the neutral language Esperanto, which has stood the test of practical use over the last 127 years, will come be used in international exchange by the people of the world, on the basis of respect for each nation’s language and culture, as humankind’s ‘second national language’.  
This is because we feel strongly that the popularisation of the international common language Esperanto, inherent in which is the spirit of homaranismo, the idea of belonging to the human race, of humankind as brothers and sisters, of universal love and brotherhood, is a concrete action contributing to the realisation of world peace.  
Koran dankon pro via auskultado! – Thank you very much for your kind attention.