Norio Sakai A Peace Activist


Translated by Dr Nobu Masuda

Rev Norio Sakai President emeritus – Religions for Peace international

Rev. Sakai served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rissho Kosei-Kai from 1996 to 2001 and has been a member of the headquarters staff since 1965.

During Rev. Sakai’s chairmanship, he encouraged the growth and active involvement of World Conference of Religions for Peace in peacemaking activities through his strong support and involvement.

As a leader in national and international Federations of religious organizations, including Religions for Peace, he is committed to the objectives of interreligious cooperation for peace and common living. He is well known in religious circles around the world for his leadership in Rissho Kosei-kai and his belief in the mission of the Religions for Peace.

I served under Reverend Nikkyo Niwano, founder of Rissho Kosei-kai for about seven years in the last period of his life. He told me of the process of how World Conference on Religions For Peace (WCRP) was founded and his memories of his activities around the world. As I listened to his stories, I began to feel that I would like to follow him by seeking the same dream.

WCRP is a movement created by the people of Religions for Peace with the fundamental spirit of non-violence derived from Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings, started with the commemoration of 100 years since his birth in 1969. Regarding nonviolence, I recall the impressive words of Reverend Niwano, “Japan has a constitution of peace, so she has been walking the path of non-violence of Gandhiji in the present world. We should pay special respect to this peaceful constitution of Japan I would like to introduce this word today since the issue of constitution is on agenda.”

From the 4th to the 8th of April, ten leaders of religious groups from Myanmar visited Japan with the invitation from Religions for Peace Japan. Now, the new government of Myanmar led by Aung San Suu Kyi has been established. She is well known to the world as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite being under house arrest for 15 years, she was not defeated and resisted against the military government with the spirit of non-violence of Gandhiji.

The hardest time for her was when Dr. Aris, her husband, who lived in UK with their two sons became ill with prostate cancer, knowing the life time was limited he applied for a visa to visit Myanmar. However, the military government denied the visa saying she should go to UK if they wanted to see each other. She did not visit UK in order to fulfill her mission as the leader of the Democratic Movement. On his birthday, his life was ended at a hospital in London without seeing his wife again.

Last, I would like to introduce the words of Reverend Niwano which I take as the words to support my heart. A journalist from the UK once raised a question to Reverend Niwano, “You have been committed to such a movement. Is it effective? Has the situation improved?” He answered, “I am doing my best, since the world is still no good” Reverend Niwano believed that cooperation between religions can produce great results someday.

Additionally, even though you may shout toward the mountain in front of you “come this way!”, the miracle never happens. However, you may proceed one step toward the mountain so that the mountain comes one step nearer for sure. If you walk two steps, then the mountain comes even closer. This is the fundamental spirit of my peace activities. I am happy if such story may have some meaning to you.