News: Japanese visitors pray for peace on solemn day
Story by Christine Cabalo
Purifying the ground with salt and sake, dozens of religious officials from Japan prayed for world peace at Marine Corps Base Hawaii’s memorial sites Dec. 7.
Members of the Japan Religious Committee for World Federation visited the base to observe the Dec. 7, 1941, bombings of Oahu.
“Every year, different organizations attend,” said Mihoko Maier, the committee’s director of public relations. “Some from well known temples come.”
Ministers from the Shinto, Buddhist and Christian faiths paid tribute to the fallen at the Lt. Fusata Iida crash site marker, Kaneohe Klipper Monument and Pacific War Memorial on base.
The group began their ceremonies at the memorial of Lt. Fusata Iida, an enemy invading Japanese pilot who crashed at the site of the marker. White flowers for mourning and other offerings were left behind at Iida’s site and at the other memorials.
More than 30 guests came aboard, each praying for peace in several religious traditions. It’s the group’s 29th visit to Oahu to participate in the day’s observances.
“We hope to show the possibility of different faiths having a dialogue about peace,” said Father Chitoshi Noshita, of Catholic Nakamachi Church in Nagasaki, Japan.
Helping the group navigate the base, Navy Cmdr. Robert Delis, command chaplain, MCB Hawaii, stood vigil with the visitors. The event was a very emotional moment for him, he said. Delis served nine years in Japan, stationed at Iwakuni and Camp Foster with the 3rd Marine Logistics Group.
He praised the group for being kind people who would take the time to honor the dead.
“They’re very good people who believe in union through peace,” Delis said. “I recently found out they’re praying for our people and for their own people too. I’ve already made some great friends through this experience.”
It’s the same feeling of camaraderie that inspired Maier to help translate during the yearly observance. The ceremonies provide an opportunity for people to get to know each other and learn about the historical event, she said.
Maier recalls being further motivated to translate after watching the historical film visitors see before entering the USS Arizona Memorial. She was shocked to see the devastation of war and hoped her assistance can bring about understanding.
“I’m Japanese and after seeing the movie, I thought I had to do something,” Maier said. “Even if my part is only a small part, it’s still something I can do to promote peace.”
Both she and Noshita said they hoped the committee’s annual ceremony and prayers contribute to attaining lasting peace.
“A lot of people think conflict or battle comes from differences of religion … however that is not always true,” Noshita said. “[Religions] can exist together to keep peace and maintain good relationships. This is what we hope to do with the inter-religious movement.”