Presentations

Remarks at the GNRC Third Forum by Hon. Yohei Kono

Remarks at the GNRC Third Forum Opening Ceremony
by Hon. Yohei Kono, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Japan

I would like to express my heartfelt greetings to everyone here from the world of religion across the globe and leaders from many different religions who have travelled so far to be here.

Of the problems which we face in the modern world- violence, poverty, and environmental destruction - the greatest victims of all are children. What is more, it is children who possess the greatest potential to change the way our world is. This is why I feel a sense of accord with the intention of Rev. Takeyasu Miyamoto, Leader of Myochikai and President of the Arigatou Foundation, when he called in 2000 for the convening of the Forum of the Global Network of Religions for Children, and I consider this to be an activity of the greatest importance.

I believe that the most important key to resolving the problems of the modern world lies in promoting dialogue between people in different positions. When I served as Minister for Foreign Affairs, something which I tried to bring into my job as a fundamental approach was to attempt to respond to the call from His Excellency Khatami, former president of Iran, for "intercultural dialogue." Following this, with the outbreak of the simultaneous terror attacks on 11 September, the global atmosphere was for a while thrown into an atmosphere of turbulence in which "the call to engage in dialogue" threatened to disappear altogether. Now, however, the atmosphere is beginning to calm down in many ways, and I believe that we can start to work towards a return to normality.

The world faces many problems which are difficult to resolve. In April, former US President Jimmy Carter visited the Middle East where he held talks with the leader of Hamas. Although these talks in themselves did not lead to any particular results, I believe that even though there are those among the world's leaders who still continue to speak and act in a way which "creates enemies," dialogue such as that conducted by former President Carter is still of great significance. In this forum, likewise, dialogue takes place between people of many different religions, and I am convinced that the progress of such "dialogue" between people in different positions will in itself become a driving force for world peace in its truest sense. I hold high expectations for the results of this forum.

On this occasion, the forum is being held in Hiroshima, which on 6 August 1945 saw the first bombing using nuclear weapons in human history. The themes of this forum are "Violence," "Poverty" and "Environment." To me, the use of nuclear weapons is the most extreme form of violence, and the most extreme form of environmental destruction. As a Japanese person, I believe that it is the mission of humanity to communicate such experiences to the people of the world; as the Speaker of Japan's House of Representatives, therefore, I made a proposal to hold the G8 Parliamentary Speakers Summit this year in Hiroshima. Let us all listen to the experiences of everyone gathered here today, and to those who were children in Hiroshima at that time.

I would like to conclude, therefore, by once again offering my prayers for the great success of this forum.

Thank you very much.