Iwata Tetsuo (lay person of Kojimachi Catholic Church)
The article 9 peace walk calls in the founding prospectus the following way:
"We dislike war again. Life is a real treasure. Peace is above all things. We embrace these ideals in the bottom of our hearts, and no matter how small they could be we will never remove them. On theother hand we, normal citizens, were never able to raise our voices and take action. But recently, due to the administration moves regarding Article 9 of the Constitution, we came to realize again the deep meaning of Article 9. As a result of intense reflection on the Asian Pacific War, Japan took an oath to renounce to war by proclaiming Article 9 of the Constitution. This is like the pivot on which modern Japan stands that assures the trust in Japan and the security of all Asians. But it also extends to the whole world as the universal desire for peaceful coexistence among all people on earth.
All people's feeling is for peace, no matter whether they had experienced war or not, like young people of today. Thus, the task to shape, join and connect that desire by raising loudly people's voices is very important. This is true not only thinking of modern Japan's role as a peace loving state, but also of international society that is deeply confused in a chain of continuous violence. We have become the first victims of a nuclear war and out from our experience we do not desire others to go through the same suffering. Thus, the voices of Hiroshima and Nagasaki citizens, strongly demanding peace to the world, together with the wishes of all those participating in the "peace walk" and their supporters, throughout the towns and villages they went through, are joined together in "article 9 peace walk" that calls aloud for peace all over the world.
"Article 9 peace walk," as a principle, appeals to individual participation and it is a citizen's event where locals cooperate together. There are many forms of participation. Some people, for instance, participate in it for a short while, or, maybe, walk along for a long period of time. In some regions people offer lodging or food, prepare encounter programs, welcome people along the roadside and offer goods to them. All such things are most welcomed. Young people plan relay events, welcoming youth walking from other regions and passing a baton to the participants as a symbol of the peace walk. Each one passes to the other the wish for "peace," sharing the desire to act steadily and with vigorous energy. Beyond all ideological belief, the participation in the "peace walk" confirms the common desire for peace and kindles the Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. Let's do the same ourselves."

Attracted by this call I also wanted to participate, even for a short time. Then, Jesuit Father Mitsunobu, of the Theology department of Sophia University contacted me and I had the opportunity of helping out when the participants of the peace walk used the Kamakura Jesuit House of the Martyrs of Japan on April 25 and, soon later on, when they stayed for 3 days at the Joseph Hall in St. Ignatius Church.
A Mass Prayer Gathering at the Jesuit House in Kamakura
The "peace walk" arrived in Kamakura on April 25. That day about 250 participants paraded from Kamakura rail station west side to Wakamiya Oji, moving on to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu and then to Yuki no Shita Catholic Church, where they held a peace gathering. I was moved by the "Article 9 peace walk" image song "Wherever" of Muriel Rukeyser that was played by peace walk participants.

"Wherever we walk
we will make.

Wherever we protest
we will go planting.

Make poems, seed grass
feed a child growing, build a house.

Whatever we stand against
we will stand feeding and seeding.

Wherever I walk
I will make."

The Jesuit House of Kamakura assenting to the zealous desire for peace of the people involved provided lodging for 27 participants. Frs Hanafusa Ryuichiro, Miura Isao from the Jesuit House and Fr. Mitsunobu Ichiro, from the Theology Department of Sophia University that participated in the peace walk welcomed the participants in an exchange program, in the evening, and led together a mass for peace on the next morning. Since many participants were not Christians and had come from other religions and foreign countries, they sung the Our Father in English as well as the Prayer of St. Francis for Peace. The mass was a very fruitful ecumenical prayer for peace.
Fr. Hanafusa selected the movie "Sacrifice" of Tarkovsky as a theme of his homily. The director selects a boy who could not talk but in a space of a day starts talking again. Alexander who plays the actor, as a father of this boy, hears the TV news of the outburst of nuclear war the day of his birthday when he plants a tree to commemorate his life and in madness, confronting God whom he doesn't believe, he offers himself in sacrifice to save the lives of those beloved ones. I was deeply moved by his words: "peace demands sacrifices at all different levels."

Staying at Kojimachi Catholic Church / The Taize Prayer Gathering
From April 30 to May 2, the "peace walk" participants stayed at the Joseph Hall of St. Ignatius Church. During those 3 days several groups took terms to serve evening meals: on April 30 the Church group serving meals to the homeless (onigiri nakama), next 1 May the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary (FCM) and the last day 2 May the Sisters of the Infant Jesus (IJ). In the morning before departure, the Sisters of the Society of Marie Auxiliatrice (MA) served them breakfast. This assistance was the result of a valuable network established beforehand. The last evening a prayer meeting "Taize inspired" to pray for peace took place to welcome the walkers of the "Article 9 peace walk." It was a pleasant evening ceremony full of deep meaning. Right after the prayer a simple party helped the participants to exchange live experiences.

Message of Hip Hop Musician Optimus
"We give concerts in many different gatherings. I'm thankful because people listen to our songs without looking weary. The theme of our music is often to look at the world from the sides of peace and justice. My father is a Protestant Minister and I was raised as a Christian. I enjoyed much the prayer meeting with its wonderful harmony. I honestly felt that faith is alive. My name "Optimus" also means "optimism." My father was born in West Africa, but with the assistance of the Catholic Church could go to the USA.
I entered a Catholic School and to study the English language I selected music as a tool. Spiritual life is something similar. And when one uses those tools to serve people they become beautiful means. Nevertheless, sometimes some groups try to dominate others blaming that their faith surpasses that of the others and then wars occur. I like the dialogue established by religious groups, no matter their differences, like this "peace walk" event. I respect any religion and spiritual life that consider highly peace and justice."

Message of Hip Hop Musician Eroc
"I feel happy participating in this "peace walk." It is an enjoyable life experience. I feel relaxed. I'm getting ready to return home and after 3 weeks I'll have my first child. I often think of the future of my baby, the future of young people and the future of children from all over the world. I, also, often think of Japan's peaceful Constitution and the importance of Article 9. Of course world peace is very important, as well as spiritual life and justice.
How to link all these is always a very important task for me. I believe that those people who claim the importance of spirituality and religious life without any commitment to work for justice and peace should not exist in our world. Let's pray for those young people that have already lost their lives so fast. Try to remember their names."

Speech of Flag man's Article 9 Peace Walk, Mr. Hirose Mitsuo

Since he likes to play "Igo" so much, he spent much of his life helping out as a "Igo" volunteer. His name is Hiroshi Mitsuo (71). He heard about the "peace walk" and joined walking all the way from Hiroshima to Makuhari. Here is his simple experience.
"The motive to participate in the "peace walk" was an advertisement in the Asahi Newspaper (February 23). Participation was free and no money was needed. I come from Kyushu and to walk through Sanyo and Tokaido roads looked attractive. I felt strong to walk and since I had been attending gatherings on Japan's peaceful Constitution and Article 9, and had also participated in programs of the "peace boat" I thought this was my opportunity. I bought a sleeping bag and took a night bus from Tokyo Station to Hiroshima so that I could get on time for the starting of the "peace walk" on February 24. I felt impelled to go by all means.
I will always remember my encounter with foreign people. I was astonished to have met an American Buddhist nun. Besides that, I can remember my conversations with a couple of lover dancers, Optimus that is going to get married soon, Eroc that will have a child in May, Ash that just came back from Iraq and Allen a former soldier in Vietnam. All of them agreed that "Peace is important." Besides, I had the experience of been helped by foreigners to pull up, from a ditch, the front wheels of a car I was asked to drive, although I had not been driving for more than 10 years.
The police was very cooperative. We presented our requests to several City Offices, but the Major seldom showed up. The 1st week was quite painful, but after that I got accustomed to the walk. We had plans, sometimes, to stay at temples but we could not find them easily and arrived there quite late. The road from Nagoya to Toyota was very long.
The largest number of people that stayed together at night was 33. We had the opportunity to stay at institutions for disabled people and were told by them that they were against war, because in case war occurs the disable will be the first ones to be dumped. We also stayed at a Sanatorium for Hansen disease patients. In Yaizu, (fishing town of Shizuoka prefecture) we paid our respects to the tombs of the atom-bombed victims of the Fukuryumaru ship, at the time of the tests of American hydrogen atomic bomb, in 1954. The Himeji Catholic Church is magnificent.
"Peace walk" holds 2 big flags with golden colors with the symbol of Article 9. One is kept in Hyogo prefecture because of the attachment we feel towards it, as a symbol of Article 9, and the fear that it might get lost. Up to now, all the groups actively promoting the defense of Article 9 had seldom gathered together, but I feel that this "peace walk" has promoted their networking and human relationships among their members. This was something positive."

From a Lady Participant of the Walk
I interviewed a young Catholic lady, Miyake Kaori, from Kanagawa.
I was busy with arbeit work and other commitments, but I could participate in the "peace walk" for 2 weeks. This experience was enjoyable and made me fully satisfied.
If you ask me the reasons why I decided to join in the walk I can, hardly, explain it. Searching the Catholic net I happened to find the link of "peace walk Article 9." In case, the walk were an antiwar demonstration I don't think I would had participated. A demonstration brings to mind the anti-security military Pact of the 60's - 70's, anti-Vietnam war, struggles in Okinawa, etc. a series of bloodshed and images of arrests.
On the other hand this "peace walk" proceeds without shouts! One can join and quit anytime! The daily distances are not more than 20 km. I was much attracted by the slogan "your action strengths me, your step gives me energy." The result was that without much thinking I joined because there was no need to shout; it was enough to walk. Then, I could also do that.
It is written in the prospectus of the "peace walk":
"The participation in this walk is a personal selection. It is a citizens' endeavor where local people cooperate and as a rule the participation is fully personal. This walk that links the wishes of people for peace consists in the implementation of peace and promotes exchanges among people walking together and those welcoming them. In order to make the walk safe and enjoyable we, strictly, keep laws and regulations and we aim at making Article 9 shining, at establishing close links among people and their ways of thinking. Let's share together prayers for peace going through steady steps."

WHow can we become today witnesses of Christ?
WTo live our faith in modern times is not an easy task. One has to select from the everyday events but faith influences the criteria and motivation for the selection. On the other hand, faith gets sometimes shaken, high pride and all kinds of desires, lack of interest and many different thoughts obstruct our hearts. As a result, while listening to the cries and suffering of people and watching the divisions and pain in the world, we must fully accept in our hearts the word of God in the Bible, pray it, reflect on our daily life and challenge ourselves.
God, that peace reigns in the world. What can be justly done in a world where coexistence among all creatures is increasingly becoming more and more difficult? What could I select to do?
I want to continue living without distorting my essential convictions.
This time it was possible to discuss war and peace, human ways of living during the "peace walk" journey. People could exchange experiences in a friendly atmosphere of respect for others' opinions, religious believes and convictions. And as a Catholic I was blessed with a motivation to reflect further on my Christian duties. In the first day of the "Article 9 World Gathering" in Makuhari I stood up in front of many people earnestly desiring peace, as a member of the "peace walk." When I reflect now on having been able to know that, all over in different parts of the world, many people act to create peace, I made a decision to become somehow a "disciple of peace" and as I continue ahead such feeling strengths me vigorously and supports my life. Thank you."

Arrival to Article 9 World Gathering
Last 4-6 May, people from Japan and many other countries gathered in Makuhari to spread to the world the concept of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, as the international symbol to renounce war for ever. In preparation for this event, "peace walk Article 9" brought together the individual desires for peace and voices of citizens to the General Assembly and in order to make them known to the world they went ahead with the peace march of citizens. On February 24, "peace walk Article 9" departed from Hiroshima aiming at Tokyo and for a period of 72 days gathered, step by step, the voices for peace of the walkers and those along the roads, of people participating and welcoming them. On May 4 they arrived at the Makuhari site for the opening ceremony of "Article 9 World Gathering."
All participants of "peace walk Article 9" were invited to the stage for the general assembly of the first day of the "Article 9 World Gathering" and two young participants together with Priest Kato (walk leader) pronounced speeches at the assembly.
Since time ago I wanted to do the journey myself. I often thought that war is number one cause for the destruction of the environment. In February I found an article about the "peace walk" looking for participants and immediately applied. No matter this "peace walk" has ended I want to spread everywhere how important Article 9 is to us." (Shimazaki Tomoe)
Before I participated in the "walk" I couldn't express with my own words the importance of Article 9. In fact, through my personal contacts with many people, I was able to feel that Article 9 is part of our lives and most probably supports, in small ways, our daily happiness. I believe that, right now, we have to make Article 9 our own, we must defend it. (Suzuki Tomomi)
Priest Fujii Nittatsu says that "civilization" is neither electric lights nor the use of airplanes. Civilization has nothing to do with the production of nuclear weapons. Civilization consists in not to kill others, not to destroy and not to make war. Civilization consists in enjoying the company of people, in mutually respecting each other.

Here is the prayer for peace of St. Francis of

Here is the prayer for peace of St. Francis of Assisi
"Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
(Priest Kato)

I was moved by the fact that St. Francis "prayer for peace" summed up and decorated an endless beauty of "Article 9 peace walk ."
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