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Message to the 35th General Assembly of the National Christian Council

14 January 2003

Addressed to Ms Reiko Suzuki, Moderator, and Rev. Kenichi Otsu, General Secretary,
14 January, 2003

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

On the occasion of 35th General Assembly of the National Christian Council in
Japan I send warm greetings to you and all the participants as they come together
in prayer and worship at the Tokyo Lutheran Church to consider the theme:

"Towards Peace and Reconciliation - Overcoming Violence". With ominous war
clouds looming on the horizon the theme is both appropriate and timely.

We live in times of violence when voices of peace are being drowned in the rhetoric
of war. At this juncture in history it is imperative for churches and Christians
around the world to intensify their engagement in efforts for peace and reconciliation.

It is through reconciliation that broken and unjust relations between communities
and nations are restored. The churches today are therefore called to this
ministry of reconciliation, a difficult and costly process that requires courage and
prophetic witness.

The current trend to resolve differences and disputes through recourse to military
action must be discouraged and condemned unequivocally on ethical and
theological grounds. The need of the hour is for Christians to become living witnesses
to peace through prayer, worship and concrete involvement. As stewards
of God's creation they are the hope of the future of His kingdom. They must also
join with others to make people aware of the threats to peace and the danger posed
by military violence.

The National Christian Council in Japan has an impeccable and distinguished
record of working for peace and justice not only in Japan but also in Northeast
Asia. When churches in Japan advocate peace they do so having experienced the
horrors of war. They have steadfastly opposed attempts to revise the "peace clause"
in the Constitution. The National Christian Council in Japan has been consistent
in its opposition to attempts by the authorities to distort the history of Japan's
imperial past through the education system by re-writing text books. In recent
times the Council has been involved in working with people of other faiths to
fashion a new understanding of community: a community that is committed to
overcome various forms of violence and promote a culture of peace and justice.
All these endeavours indicate the Council's conviction that God has made us and
all creation and it is our duty to seek peace, justice and dignity for all His people.

On this auspicious occasion we take the opportunity to thank God for the constant
witness of the Japanese Christians, characterized by their commitment to
justice and peace. Assuring you of our continuous and unwavering support, we
pray for the leadership of your Church. May they be inspired and strengthened
by the Holy Spirit to be instruments of His witness for peace.

With warm regards,

Yours in Christ,

Konrad Raiser
General Secretary