On Saturday, November 17, 2012, I had the privilege of accepting an invitation to attend and speak at the Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall’s Triple Commemoration Ceremony. It was in celebration of the following three events: (1) the 60th Anniversary of the reopening of the organization after 10 years of closure because of the Pacific War’s devastating effect on the community; (2) completion of the reconstruction of the New Japanese Hall and Multi-Purpose Classroom complex in which final re-payment of the bank loan was made in August 2012; and (3) completion of renovation to the old heritage building in which the old wing is now dedicated to the Early-Child Education program.
I was asked to prepare a short speech for the Triple Commemoration Ceremony. I wanted to tie my speech to a personal anecdote from one of my attendances at the Vancouver Japanese Language School. I decided to speak about my participation a few years ago in a Vancouver Save Article 9 meeting held at the School. Article 9 in Japan’s Constitution renounces war as a means of settling international disputes. Japan is allowed to have armed forces for self defense purposes only. There have been some in Japan who wanted to make changes to Article 9. One prominent voice who wanted to save Article 9 was that of Japan’s Kato Shuichi. Kato who died a few years ago was a famous intellectual who spoke and wrote on many aspects of culture and society in Japan. Like many others and like me too, he supported Article 9 because its goal is the promotion of peace. He was the keynote speaker of the meeting.
Kato suggested it was no coincidence that an Article 9 group was formed here because Vancouver is where the West meets the East, and that the city is home to people of diverse heritage. It is a vision shared by the Vancouver Japanese Language School. The School sees itself as a bridge between Canada and Japan. The School’s vision is more than this though. It also sees itself as a bridge between the local Japanese Canadian and multi-cultural communities. This vision is also held by the GVJCCA. Article 2(e) of our Constitution states that one of our Purposes is “to develop and maintain a communications network with multicultural societies in Canada and the world.”
Words promoting peace and harmony are found throughout the Purposes of our Constitution. The Japanese word for peace is heiwa. I note that one of our most respected members, Mary Kitagawa, includes “heiwa” in her e-mail address. I was a university student in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. It was a time when everyone was urged to “give peace a chance.” It is a timeless message.
Looking ahead to the New Year, we encourage seniors 70 years of age and older to attend GVJCCA’s Keirokai 2013. It will be held at the Nikkei Centre on Saturday, January 19, 2013 from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm. Please phone Tonari Gumi at 604.687.2172 to register. Deadline for registration is January 11, 2013. Volunteers, please phone Shag Ando at 604.922.9226 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gary Matson, President, GVJCCA