World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Katsunori Yamanoi

17 February 2006

Katsunori Yamanoi is chairman of the Board of Directors, Rissho Kosei-kai

Greetings everyone, my name is Katsunori Yamanoi and I am the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rissho Kosei-kai. On behalf of Rissho Kosei-kai, I would like to express my profound gratitude for this opportunity to participate in the Ninth WCC Assembly. I would also like to express my deep respect for the WCC, which has made a great contribution to harmony among different churches and interreligious dialogue for more than half a century. 

Rissho Kosei-kai has sent representatives to every WCC Assembly since the Sixth WCC Assembly was convened in Vancouver, Canada. And since 1985, Rissho Kosei-kai has continued dialogue with the WCC through its liaison office in Geneva, Switzerland. Rissho Kosei-kai is also the parent organization of the Niwano Peace Foundation, which in 1986 awarded the Fourth Niwano Peace Prize to Dr. Phillip A. Potter, the former WCC General Secretary. Long before then, in 1969, Nikkyo Niwano, Founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, met with then WCC General Secretary Eugene Carson Blake at WCC Headquarters in Switzerland. Their exchange of ideas formed a bond transcending their differences of faith.

Rissho Kosei-kai is a lay Buddhist organization aiming to live life according to the True Dharma revealed by Shakyamuni. We continue to grow spiritually confirming and reconfirming the essence of what Shakyamuni wanted to convey to us.

This year, Rissho Kosei-kai will reach a turning point as we observe the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Founder Nikkyo Niwano. In life, Founder Niwano's goal was the realization of peace through interreligious dialogue and cooperation, and so he worked tirelessly to establish and develop WCRP, the World Conference of Religions for Peace. The basis of his work was the "One Vehicle" spirit, that is, "Since by nature all human beings are riding together on the same vehicle, we should be broad-minded, respect one another, and cooperate with each other." Today, as I participate in this Ninth General Assembly, I once again realize that the world all of you in the WCC are striving toward is the same for me as a Buddhist. 

The WCC has proclaimed the first decade of the twenty-first century to be "The Decade to Overcome Violence." Truly, this is a timely appeal. At present, war and acts of terrorism continue unabated in our world. People's hearts are swelling with suspicion, antagonism, and misunderstanding. We religious people cannot afford to overlook this.

Shakyamuni showed us the True Way when he said, "Truly, malice cannot be extinguished with malice. Only through compassion can it be extinguished." And Dr. Martin Luther King said that, "Returning violence with violence increases violence, and only makes a dark, starless night that much darker. Darkness cannot be chased away with darkness. Only light can do that. Hatred is not dispelled by hatred. Only love can do that." Compassion and love are all we can rely upon to overcome violence. 

I understand that the world of compassion, the world of love for which we strive, cannot be realized in a day and a night. Nevertheless, I believe that if religious leaders can have sincere dialogue and cooperate with each other, then step by step society, and the world, will have peace. This belief is etched in my heart, and my hope is that from now on, I will strive in that direction, hand in hand with all of the members of the WCC.

By the way, in August of this year, the Eighth Assembly of WCRP will be convened in Kyoto, Japan. The host of this Assembly is Nichiko Niwano, President of Rissho Kosei-kai. This will be WCRP's first Assembly of the twenty-first century, and I sincerely hope, from the bottom of my heart, that many members of the WCC will be able to cooperate with and participate in the Assembly so that it will be even more productive. 

I would like to conclude my address today with my earnest prayer that the results of this Ninth WCC Assembly will become a chapter of brightly shining hope in world history and be an inspiration showing humanity how to live. 

Thank you very much.