Peacebuilding Together in Asia: GPF Japan Hosts Peace Design Forum

Kazuhiro Handa
May 9, 2024

Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Japan hosted a Peace Design Forum at the Meguro Chushokigyo Center Hall on April 20, 2024, once again bringing people together dedicated to building peace.

The forum started with an impressive taiko performance by Takeshi Chiyozono, a traditional Japanese drums player who takes the stage with a prayer for peace before every show.

Man in gray suit speaking about Peacebuilding with a microphone on a stage, gesturing with his right hand, under a spotlight.

Dr. Emmanuel Pastreich shares his thoughts on peace building in Asia.

Dr. Emmanuel Pastreich, president of Asia Institute and a senior fellow at Global Peace Foundation, gave introductory remarks and shared how the cultural traits of Japan—such as harmony, community thought, and sympathy towards others—should be utilized in its role in peacebuilding, especially with current tensions rising in the Asia region.

Special guest Koichi Hagiwara, a former UN official, remarked that Japan is a country where most of its people do not want war; they do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. He expressed his worries, however, that the world’s top leaders are using the term “World War Three” and trying to drag the world’s population in that direction. He believes that Japan, together with the nations in East Asia can stop this flow. In order to do so, he mentioned how the unification of the Korean Peninsula is “a must.”

Mr. Hagiwara mentioned that peace must begin at the grassroots levels where friendly relations with Japan and South Korea can be strengthened. One such example he shared was starting any kind of tournament, such as a fishing tournament, where teams would be composed of people from both countries, and the end goal would require cooperation between them. If people from both sides “work things out,” Mr. Hagiwara said methods towards peace would come naturally.

Koichi Hagiwara talks about his experiences as a former UN official.

Adding to this topic was Aya Goto, Chair of GPF Japan, who gave the keynote address, mentioning that if Japan and South Korea were to have a common vision for the region and work in a reliable manner, the fruit of their efforts would bring about trustworthy human relations—the first step towards peacebuilding.

Instead of promoting peace on the Korean Peninsula with the approach of denuclearization and disarmament, Mr. Goto shared about the GPF approach of the “Korean Dream”—an approach which aims for the peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula centered on the national Korean vision of “Hongik Ingan,” meaning “living for the benefit of humanity.” He expressed his hopes that with this Korean ideal combined with the Japanese people’s value of harmony and an altruistic spirit, the people of the two countries can join hands and realize this dream of one global family, beginning in the East Asia region.

A woman in a red dress and black jacket, wearing a beret, sings passionately into a microphone on a stage at the Peace Design Forum.

Tasico expressing her gratitude through her song, Arigato.

Closing the program, Filipina enka singer Yolanda Tasico performed two songs of peace. The first was a piece she wrote and composed in Japanese, Arigato (Thank You), and the second, Whitney Houston’s Greatest Love of All. She expressed her gratitude towards Japan as it was a country that took her in at a young age, helping her find peace—which she hopes can spread to the region of East Asia.

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