【June 2017 No.393】International Youth Conference Considers Sustainable Energy Issues

by Iijima Makoto, executive secretary Kyodan East Japan Disaster Relief Projects Planning Headquarters

The International Youth Conference on “Aiming to Realize a Sustainable Energy Future,” hosted by the Kyodan in Kyoto March 28-31, was a very significant event in the ongoing efforts to consider issues associated with nuclear power generation and energy consumption, in the following three respects.

1. The conference was held in Japan, which has experienced radiation exposure three times—in Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Fukushima.

2. Not only did the conference clarify problems of nuclear power generation from a variety of viewpoints, it provided suggestions about how to realize a sustainable energy society in the future.

3. The conference, which was planned and implemented by youth leaders, gave birth to the possibility of a network that is rooted in the church and based on shared awareness among Christian youth from 12 countries, including not just Asian countries but also Canada, the USA, and Germany. There were 110 participants, with 20 from overseas.

These points are explained further below with corresponding numbers.

1. In 1945 Japan suffered the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and, after the East Japan Disaster on March 11, 2011, also experienced the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We therefore bear a special duty, now more than ever, to alert the world to the grave effects of radioactive contamination on our lives. At this conference we did not limit ourselves to speaking out; we were able to invite youth from other countries that listened earnestly to our voices and were willing to engage in new challenges with us.

2. The conference made it clear that the nuclear power plant accident of 2011 caused irreparable harm and dire situations in the following ways.

   1) There are people who cannot return to their homes due to high levels of radiation.

   2) Not only has mandatory evacuation destroyed local communities, differing viewpoints on radiation risks have also caused division in families and among friends.

   3) Harmful effects on the health of children resulting from radioactive contamination are growing more serious with the passage of time.

Such problems were illustrated through the use of meticulous materials, and the situations and initiatives in other countries were also introduced. Through this, participants were also made aware of how important it is for us to adopt sustainable energy options into our daily lives; for example, going “off-grid.”*

3. The fact that this conference was planned over a period of one year and was carried out by young people is very meaningful not only for the future of the Kyodan but also for the Christian community in Japan. As we look forward with anticipation to the rich relationships that may develop among the youth who gathered, including those from abroad, we in the Kyodan must ask ourselves what we can do to foster such relationships.

Fellowship can take many forms. The special characteristic of the fellowship experienced at this conference was that participating youth discovered the importance of collaborating across denominational boundaries while remaining firmly grounded in the Gospel faith. Also noteworthy is the fact that 16 of the Kyodan’s 17 districtswere represented at the conference. (Okinawa sent no delegate.) It is encouraging to know that the Kyodan can come together like this to engage a single issue as one body.

Aside from the closing day’s plenary session, where we discussed and adopted a final statement, the conference was an intense event that featured 20 lectures and presentations in 21/2 days. The young organizers did a wonderful job of implementing the program. We can say that this youth conference inherited the spirit of the Kyodan’s first international conference, held at Sendai in 2014, and bore fruit beyond our expectations.

The tasks that lay ahead of us are: (1) to ensure that the issues of nuclear power transmitted from Japan will be deeply and widely received abroad and (2) to work with overseas partners who sent youth to this conference to host in those countries, on a rotating basis, a series of conferences focused on nuclear power issues.

With heartfelt prayers to the God of history, this concludes my report on the conference. (Tr. DGM)

*Going “off-grid”: Disconnecting from the power distribution network (“grid”) of major electric power companies by installing and using one’s own power-generation facilities.

「国際青年会議in京都―エネルギー持続社会の実現に向けて」報告 (飯島信)



(2)原発の持つ問題点が様々な視点から明らかにされただけでなく、未来のエネルギー持続社会実現に向かう示 唆が与えられたこと。




(1)    について。

1945年のヒロシマ・ナガサキへの原爆投下、そして2011年の3・11東日本大震災による東京電力福島第一原子力発電所の原発事故によって、私たちは戦争の悲惨さだけではなく、放 射能汚染が私たちの生活に与える深刻さを、これまでより一層声を大にして世界に発信する責務が与えられている。今回の国際青年会議は、2014年の国際会議に続く私たちの2回目の原発問題の発信の場であった。そして、それは、ただ発信するにとどまらず、私たちの発信を真摯に受け止 め、この問題を共に担うことが期待された海外からの若者を招いて行われたのである。


(2)    について。

3・11の原発事故は、以下の点で、取り返しのつかない悲惨な現実を生み出していることが会議を通して明らか にされた。


②強制避難によって地域社会が崩壊したのみならず、放射能の問題をめぐる意見の相違が肉親・親族の間に深刻な分 断をもたらしていること。


これらの問題が綿密な資料をもとに確認されただけでなく、他の国々の取り組みも紹介される中で、オフグリッド (注)など持続可能エネルギーを生活の中に取り入れて行くことの大切さが改めて認識された。



(3)    について。

今回の会議が、約1年の歳月をかけて、青年たちによって準備・運営された事実は、日本基督教団のこれからだけでなく、日本のキリ スト教界の将来にとって重要な意味を持つ。特に、国を超えて生まれた青年たちの交わりが今後いかに豊かなものに成長して行くか、そのため に日本基督教団として何が出来るのかが問われている。


交わりには様々な在り方がある。その中での今回の交わりの特色は、参加した青年たちが、福音主義信仰の土台の 上に、各個教会の枠を超えて協働の大切さを受け止め合えたことにあるだろう。特に今回の会議に、日本基督教団全17教区中、沖縄を除く16教区が青年代表を派遣した事実を見ても、教会・教区の枠を超え、日本基督教団が一致して一つの課題に向き合う ことの出来た事実が知らされるのである。

会議は、最終日の声明文採択の時間を除き、2日半で20の講演と発表が行われた過密なプログラムであった。しかし、青年達は見事なまでに会議を運営して行った。こう して行われた国際青年会議は、2014年に仙台で行われた日本基督教団初の国際会議を継承し、予想をはるかに越えた実りをもたらしたと言える。

課題は、日本から発信された原発問題が、さらに深く広く海外で受け止められ、今回参加した国々が、原発問題を 主題にした青年会議を次々に持ち回りで開催することである。