A new page for brotherhood between Christians and Buddhists has been opened in Japan. In this big Country, with 127 million citizens, majority of whom are Shintoists and Buddhists, Christians are no more than 1% of the population. It was precisely a Japanese Buddhist Movement, the Rissho Kosei-kai, which invited the Gen Verde performing arts group to bring a message of peace and brotherhood to its own people. This happened after a delegation of Rissho Kosei-kai attended a performance of Gen Verde in Korea in 2002, where the group presented Prime Pagine (The First Pages), a musical which traces the origins of the Focolare Movement in the re-discovery of the Gospel.
Translated into Japanese specifically for this tour, the musical reached numerous audiences: over 17,000 people in 9 cities, from Tokyo to Nagasaki. A violent typhoon and earthquake at Niigata inspired the group to make the performance a sign of concrete solidarity.
The invitation of RKK is rooted in the dialogue with Chiara Lubich and the Focolare, which has been going on in Japan since 1979. The official motive for inviting Gen Verde was the commemoration of Nikkyo Niwano, founder of the Movement, 5 years after his death. Six million RKK followers were linked via satellite for the ceremonies. The tour signified – as Chiara Lubich wished in her message to the President of RKK, Nichiko Niwano – “a new commitment in living and working together, with dedication and trust, continually supporting one another, so as to build unity in the human family.”
Gen Verde’s contacts with Japanese culture, with Shintoism and traditional Buddhism were numerous, as they visited temples and spiritual masters, such as the Venerable Takeuchi, who is in contact with Focolare for many years now. Through the Koriukai, the meetings to exchange experiences and comments, Gen Verde met another 2,120 people. “These people have never stopped to surprise us” Paola Stradi of Gen Verde commented. “They are strong and delicate at the same time, determined and indomitable, very sensitive to the values of the spirit”.