INTERFAITH & PHILANTHROPY
All of Rissho Kosei-kai's peace activities are based on the teachings of the Lotus Sutra: Truth is universal and all religions are manifestations of that truth; all life springs from the same source and thus all people are related and belong to one family. The organizations's dedication to dialogue and cooperation with other religions is a natural corollary of the teachings. This is why, ever since its founding, Rissho Kosei-kai has sought to cooperate with other religions. Rissho Kosei-kai believes that true peace can come about only through cooperation among religions, and leaders as well as members of Rissho Kosei-kai are dedicated to working for a world in which people of all persuasions will be linked by bonds of friendship.
RELIGIONS FOR PEACE
Religions for Peace (RfP), formerly called World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP), is one of the largest interreligious networks promoting collaboration among religious organizations around the world. RfP strives for peace building, human development, social justice and harmony, and environmental protection. RfP's global multi-greligious network consists of six regional interrelgious groups including more than ninety national councils.
Rissho Kosei-kai has been involved in RfP's activities for world peace since its inception. In the 1960's, Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, founder of Rissho Kosei-kai, strove to establish the World Conference of Religions for Peace with other religious leaders in Japan and the world over. In 1970, the first world assembly of WCRP convened in Kyoto, Japan. World religious leaders met to share their goals and contribute to world peace in the spirit of interreligious cooperation. In 1973, Religions for Peace was granted Consultative Status, Category II, by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
RfP has continued to hold its periodic world assembly: the second one at Louvain, Belgium, in 1974; the third at Princeton, USA in 1979; the fourth at Nairobi, Kenya in1984; the fifth at Melbourne, Australia in 1989; the sixth at Vatican and Riva del Grade, Italy in 1994; the seventh at Amman, Jordan in 1999; the eighth at Kyoto, Japan in 2006; the ninth at Vienna, Austria in 2013; and the tenth at Linda, Germany in 2019.
For further information about the WCRP/ RfP, visit https://rfp.org
ASIAN CONFERENCE ON RELIGIONS FOR PEACE
Rissho Kosei-kai has been active in collaborating with Religions for Peace Asia, also known as Asian Conference of Religions for Peace (ACRP), or the interreligious regal body in Asia of Religions for Peace (RfP). The diverse religious communities of ACRP share concerns such as peacemaking, social justice, sustainable development, environmental protection, arms reduction, human rights, and gender equality. ACRP is dedicated to addressing these issues by translating the community's common concerns into concrete actions.
ACRP originated in the second world assembly of Religions for Peace, which took place in Lueven, Belgium, in September 1974. Participants from Asia desired their own region so that they could revive the religious values and cultural heritage of Asia, as well as address various problems in the region. Thus in 1976, the first conference of ACRP convened in Singapore.
Since the first convention (ACRP I), Asian religious leaders have met at New Delhi, India, in 1981 (ACRP II); at Seoul, South Korea, in 1986 (ACRP III); at Katmandu, Nepal, in 1991 (ACRP IV); at Ayutthaya, Thailand, in 1996 (ACRP V); at Yogyakrta, Indonesia, in 2002 (ACRP VI); at Manila, Philippines, in 2008 (ACRP VII); and at Incheon, the Republic of Korea, in 2014 (ACRP VIII).
For further information, visit https://rfpasia.org
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
The International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF), founded in Boston in 1900, is the world's oldest international interfaith group. In 1972, IARF was granted consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Presently, its seventy-five-member organizations in twenty-seven countries include participants from many regions' traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Shinto, and Zoroastrianism. Through its various programs and activities, the interfaith association promotes openness to diversity, religious tolerance, philanthropy, and solidarity among people of all religious traditions.
In 1969, Rissho Kosei-kai joined IARF. Recently, in 2014, we participated in the thirty-fourth World Congress in Birmingham, England, where about three hundred delegates gathered from thirty countries. We work continually to implement the IARF's value together with members of the Japan chapter.
For further information, visit https://iarf.net
PHILANTHROPHY & CULTURAL MOVEMENT
NIWANO PEACE FOUNDATION
The Niwano Peace Foundation, affiliated with Rissho Kosei-kai, was established in 1978 to stimulate work and research for world peace in a religious spirit, involving contemporary thought, culture, science, education, and related fields. Since 1979, the foundation has annually presented grants to assistance activities and research projects that are based on a religious spirit.
The founder of the Niwano Peace Foundation is Rev. Nikkyo Niwano, who established Rissho Kosei-kai in 1938 and was its first president. For decades he promoted interreligious cooperation both on the national and international levels for the common goals of human happiness and world peace. Rev. Niwano held the idea that people of faith are given the vital mission of cooperating to achieve these goals on the basis of mutual understanding.
Since 1983, the foundation has awarded the Niwano Peace Prize to honor distinguished individuals or groups that contribute to world peace through interreligious dialogue, disarmament, the defense of human rights, and conflict resolution. The Niwano Peace Prize is awarded annually on the basis of recommendations by over one thousand leading figures in more than one hundred countries, which are considered with strict impartiality by the Niwano Peace Prize Committee.
To learn more, visit https://www.npf.or.jp/english/
One of Rissho Kosei-kai's peace activities that continues to attract wide support is the Donate-a-Meal Movement which was officially inaugurated in 1974. Rissho Kosei-kai members who participate in the movement forgo a meal on the first and fifteenth of every month. The through their local Dharma centers they contribute the money saved to the Rissho Kosei-kai Donate-a-Meal Fund for Peace. Members taking part in the movement are moved by compassion for people suffering from hunger, illness, natural disasters and so on, and pray that their donations may help relieve their suffering and also contribute to world peace. This movement is founded upon the One-Vehicle spirit of the Lotus Sutra, which reveals the truth that all people are brothers and sisters sustained by the one immense Life of the universe.
In African countries, blankets are essential to help people survive the harsh natural conditions. Since many countries on the continent have both highland and desert climates, there is a great difference between daytime high temperatures and the low temperatures at night and in the early morning. The victims of natural disasters and the refugees created by internal conflicts are often malnourished or even starving and lacking in basic necessities. Blankets used as temporary shelter shield them from the fierce daytime sun and serve as overcoats to help maintain body warmth during the extreme nighttime cold.
Since 1984, Rissho Kosei-kai has implemented the campaign of collecting blankets from community members and sending them to people in Africa in collaboration with other partner groups. The campaign helps participants increase compassion for African refugees and internally displaced persons and make people acutely aware of the harsh conditions in which they are put. By donating blankets, the participants convey their affection, so that African and Japanese people can sense their connection to each other, despite living far apart from one another. Thus new bonds of love are created.
LITTLE BAGS OF DREAMS CAMPAIGN
Every year, elementary pupils and junior high school students from the families of Rissho Kosei-kai members conduct the Little Bags of Dreams Campaign from late April through the end of August. They fill little cloth bags with stationary items, small daily necessities, toys, and cards containing messages of friendship from their parents, friends, and others at home and their Dharma centers. The little bags, approximately 9" x 13", are prepared by the students', parents, and volunteer members of each Dharma center.
Later, the Little Bags of Dreams collected from Rissho Kosei-kai Dharma Centers are sent to the countries where children have suffered the loss of their homes and family members as a result of local conflicts. Past examples from these countries include Isreal, Palestine, Lebanon, Northern Ireland, and the former Yugoslavia. Over there, the gift bags are distributed to unfortunate children with the assistance of other nongovernmental organizations. Rissho Kosei-kai has sometimes sent volunteer groups of parents and children to these countries in the distribution of the gift bags.
The goals of the Little Bags of Dreams campaign are first, to help heal the psychological wounds suffered by children in many parts of the world; second, to allow Japanese children and their parents to contribute to the happiness of children who have suffered; and third, to help Japanese children grow spiritually and teach them to appeal to their friends to join in the spirit of sharing in others' suffering, offering prayers for them, and making donations.
SUPPORT FOR UNITED NATIONS
Rissho Kosei-kai has supported the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) since 1979, based on one of its guiding principles, which is to support United Nations activities for world peace. In addition, through its participation in meetings of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), Rissho Kosei-kai constantly seeks to enhance Japan's contribution to the international community. Further, with the Donate-a-Meal Funds For Peace, we have continued to support the projects of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) of the UN.
Since the UN International Year of the Child in 1979, young Rissho Kosei-kai members have been conducting campaigns throughout Japan to solicit contributions from the public for UNICEF. Thus they help achieve UNICEF's primary purpose: to provide assistance for needy mothers and children the world over. Further, Rissho Kosei-kai hopes that by participating in this activity, whether by collecting contributions or making donations, all people involved may realize that they are bodhisattvas by nature. In other words, the UNICEF fund-raising campaign provides an opportunity for members as well as people at large to practice the way of the bodhisattva.