Brad Rozairo OMI — The “Ten Days for Peace” is the annual period of prayer held by the Church in Japan from August 6 to 15, to remember the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This was established by the Japanese Bishops in 1982, following Pope John Paul II’s “Appeal for Peace at Hiroshima” (25 February 1981) during his Apostolic Journey to Japan, in which he emphasized that “remembering the past is engaging for the future”.
For a good number of years, I have been visiting Hiroshima during the “Ten Days for Peace”, but since the pandemic, I could not make the trip to Hiroshima. This special period (“Ten Days for Peace”) gives an opportunity not only to Christians but also to other religions to reflect, pray and initiate peace activities throughout Japan. People from all over Japan as well as from abroad brave the August hot and humid weather in Hiroshima and come together to participate in different peace events and activities and of course to pray for peace. Many also take time to listen to the war experiences of the survivors (Hibakusha) of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The smell of incense, the sound of the gong and the offering of flowers make you think of the unforgettable past and pray for all the victims of the atomic bombing as well as those still suffering from that traumatic experience.
Today, by looking at what is happening around us I am sure many would say that not much has changed since that atomic bombing in 1945. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korea’s nuclear program, the territorial disputes in the South China Sea and the threat of nuclear war etc. have made people live in constant fear. Also, the present pandemic, the recent economic and political crisis in Sri Lanka and the growing political instability in Myanmar have made life very insecure and fragile. As a result, people continue to struggle for their survival. In this background, we enter the “Ten Days for Peace”.
In his Easter message, Pope Francis said, “Every war brings in its wake consequences that affect the entire human family: from grief and mourning to the drama of refugees, and to the economic and food crisis.” He then concluded his message with this call: “Brothers and sisters, may we be won over by the peace of Christ! Peace is possible; peace is a duty; peace is everyone’s primary responsibility!”Friends, during the Ten Days of Prayer for Peace, let us think and reflect on our responsibilities to peace and try to raise our voices and take action to create a just society.