At the end of the Second World War the streets of our cities were burning with the fires of war. Nuclear bombs were dropped, and many people lost their families. Fathers and brothers who went to war zones did not return. When the war ended, everyone was strongly determined that “We never want to go to war again”. We decided as a country to walk the road of peace, a road that we have followed for over 70 years. In that time, war and conflict continued without stopping in the neighboring Korean peninsula, Vietnam, the Middle East and Africa. Many people in those countries were forced to flee their homes and become refugees. Missiles and high precision weapons killed not only soldiers, but many innocent victims as well, including women and children.
Meanwhile, in Japan we put aside our weapons and followed the path of industrial development instead. We built cars and dams, developed the Shinkansen, and became a wealthy and prosperous country through international trade.
These day the number of people who remember the war (75 years old and above) make up only 12.5% of the population. The images of war that we see in movies and on television is of heroic fighting in war machines, dramas about idealized soldiers, and news about conflicts occurring in far away countries. The number of people who have actually carried a gun and fought has become very few. Most of us don not know the reality war. Not the smell of blood, not maggots crawling out of corpses, not starvation, nor the sounds of bullets. However, it is clear that our children and grandchildren, or even we ourselves, may come to experience these things in the future.
It is politicians who have never experienced war who want, despite the opposition of 80% of the population, to change Japan into a country that goes to war. Is international contribution now supposed to mean picking up guns and fighting together? Japanese who have participated in international activities have built up a reputation of trust in conflict regions as a people who do not fight. But now those people will probably become a target for terrorism.
As members of the Religious Society of Friends, we must not forget the actions that Japan committed in the past, in the Korean peninsula, in China, and in South East Asia. In Korea, which was our colony, we stole names and language from the people, and violated women. In China and South East Asia, which the Japanese army invaded, we committed terrible atrocities.
Our country must not once again cause deaths of people through war. We must not make our families into aggressors who commit atrocities against the people of other countries.
For this reason we oppose the strengthening of security related legislation.
August 16, 2015 Tokyo Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in Japan
On the 70th anniversary of the End of the Second World War
Our wishes for Peace