Calls from Hiroshima for peace in Tibet

by Masayoshi Ishikawa, Staff Writer

Voices from Hiroshima are calling for an end to the recent violence in Tibet. People who were inspired by the philosophy of nonviolence shared by the Dalai Lama, the supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism who visited Hiroshima in November 2006, contend that this conflict must be resolved through dialogue.

Masao Nishida, 40, a mountain climber, has visited Tibetan refugees in several locations, including Lhasa and India. On March 26, he took part in a peace march in downtown Hiroshima, appealing for a nonviolent solution to the unrest in Tibet. Seeking the support of more Hiroshima citizens, he urged, “We must continue to take concrete steps to end this conflict.” He believes that a message from Hiroshima, which experienced the violence of the atomic bombing, can touch others in the world.

Shoyu Yoshida, 47, the chief priest of Daishoin Temple, where the Dalai Lama stayed for six days, said, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama believes in nonviolence. I don't think he desires any extreme actions. I hope that the Chinese government will engage in the dialogue that the Dalai Lama asks for.” Mr. Yoshida is planning to hold a memorial service for the victims of the uprising in May.

While the Chinese government has been restricting the media from entering Lhasa, another Buddhist priest in Hiroshima, who has been supporting Tibetan refugees, received an email from an acquaintance living in Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama's base in India. “The email said that footage taken in Lhasa using a cell phone was viewed at a local temple,” related the priest. “People wept when they saw so many dead bodies.” He added firmly, “The truth will come out despite the Chinese government's effort to conceal it.”

At an international conference held in Hiroshima in November 2006, the Dalai Lama spoke with Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, a leader of the movement in South Africa to abolish apartheid, and Betty Williams, a peace activist from Northern Ireland. Their joint statement from the conference declared, “We must transform indifference to the pain of others into global concern.”

Ichiro Nakamura, 39, one of the organizers of the conference and a former Chairman of the Hiroshima Junior Chamber of Commerce, said, “The practicality of our appeal, in which reconciliation and forgiveness can break the chain of violence, is being tested. I will continue weighing what we can do instead of simply treating the current situation in Tibet as someone else's problem.”


In 1951, the Chinese government, declaring Tibet the territory of China, began stationing the People's Liberation Army in Tibet. The Dalai Lama XIV, the supreme leader of Tibetan Buddhism, fled to India in 1959. In 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was established, but demonstrations by Tibetans calling for independence still frequently take place due to religious suppression and economic disparity between the Tibetan population and the Han Chinese who are migrating to the area. The current unrest was triggered by a clash between Tibetan monks, who are opposed to China's policy on Tibet, and Chinese security forces. Similar clashes have taken place in neighboring Chinese provinces, such as Sichuan and Gansu.