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Toward a ‘nonkilling’ world

/ 12:05 AM August 15, 2015

At the Aug. 9 commemoration in Japan of the United States’ nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 (the first on Aug. 6 and the latter on Aug. 9), representatives of 75 countries were present. In their speeches, a bombing survivor and the mayor of Nagasaki criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his plan to loosen the restrictions on what the Japanese military can do if Japan’s “Peace Constitution” were amended.

Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue delivered a peace declaration during the ceremony. He said there was “widespread unease” about Prime Minister Abe’s legislation that would alter the constitutional requirement limiting Japan’s military to self-defense. Sixty percent of the Japanese people are against changing Japan’s pacifist constitution.

Countless people in Korea, Taiwan, China and Southeast Asia who were victimized by Japan’s aggression and occupation remember how they suffered so much under brutal Japanese rule.

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A note on a family tragedy and reconciliation. During World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, my parents in Bohol refused to surrender and collaborate with the Japanese forces. Instead they both served in the underground government of the province. When Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s liberation forces were to land in Leyte in 1944, Japanese soldiers arrested my parents in a guerrilla mountain hideout. Papa and Mama were imprisoned, tortured, and then executed on Oct. 22, 1944. Seven of us children were orphans when the war ended.

Ironically, 30 years later, from 1977 to 1987, I worked for the United Nations University (UNU) in Tokyo and was reconciled with the Japanese as a peaceful nation. Coincidentally, Pope John Paul II was a guest lecturer of the UNU in Hiroshima, where my wife and I met him. I knelt and kissed his hand, and he raised me and blessed me: “God love your family.”

No more nuclear weapons, nuclear wars. In his address at the ceremony in Nagasaki, Prime Minister Abe said Japan remained “determined to pursue a world without nuclear weapons.” In his statement read out for him, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said: “Nagasaki must be the last—we cannot allow any future use of nuclear weapons. The humanitarian consequences are too great. No more Nagasakis. No more Hiroshimas!”

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Let me share my views on peace and “nonkilling” not only in the Philippines but globally.

The Indivisible Peace We Seek

In unity with our people and all humankind we seek a just and enduring peace law and order and mutual tolerance at home and around the world.

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We want an end to killing and maiming because of greed or creed, class or tribe; where the poor are weak and the strong aren’t just,or for whatever reason or senselessness. But the peace we seek is much more than the absence of lethal force and physical violence. It is “a nonkilling world” devoid of threats to kill torture, destroy, impoverish, and humiliate.

It is the tranquil fruit of freedom,social justice and human development“under the rule of law, truth and love” for one another, says our Constitution.

It is a state of society marked by respect and reverence for the life and rights of every human being, and learning from various religions and cultures.

It is the positive feeling people have about the people’s safety and security as individuals and as members of their communities, “local to global.”

It is the gratifying feeling of being in harmony with one’s self, with fellow men, women and children, with nature, and with God.

And the empowering feeling of solidarity and cooperation with family, neighbor and nation, region and humankind.

With God’s grace, this is the peace we seek in our time and in the future as the caring,sharing and democratic nation and world we hope and want to become.

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Globally, violent conflicts may have worsened and the menace of nuclear war remains. In my studies I came upon the results of the Global Index of Peace in 2010 by the Institute for Economics and Peace in Australia. The Index ranked 149 countries from the most peaceful to the least peaceful. Remarkably, Japan was ranked among the most peaceful country in the world.

The Index listed the seven most peaceful countries as: New Zealand, Iceland, Japan, Austria, Norway, Ireland and Denmark.

The Global Peace Index for 2010 ranked the Philippines very low in peacefulness (130th), or close to the bottom among the 149 countries surveyed. In other words, the Philippines was the 130th least peaceful country, or the 19th most violent in the world.

As observed, the South China Sea remains a potential area for conflict, with the countries involved in the dispute (China, the Philippines, Vietnam, etc.) all showing a worsening of their scores in the 2015 Index. Although the likelihood of further military skirmishes in the West Philippine Sea is high, a large-scale military engagement remains unlikely. Because of our conflicts in Mindanao, the Philippines ranked 141st in peacefulness in the world. North Korea ranked 153rd.

Jose V. Abueva is the 16th president and a professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines. He is the founding president of Kalayaan College and cofounder of the Movement for a Nonkilling Philippines and the Centrist Democratic Party-Ang Partido ng Tunay na Demokrasya.

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TAGS: Global Index of Peace, Hiroshima, Japan, Nagasaki, shinzo abe, Tomihisa Taue, World War II
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