Ritsumeikan University Hosts International Symposium: Where Are We Headed, War or Peace?
On October 30, Ritsumeikan University hosted “Where Are We Headed, War or Peace?” an international symposium to explore multilateral cooperation to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis.
Former Ambassador Christopher Hill and former Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Mitoji Yabunaka (Specially-appointed professor, Ritsumeikan University College of International Relations), the respective former heads of the American and Japanese delegations to the six-party talks, as well as Moon Chung-in, an advisor to current Korean president Moon Jae-in, and faculties from the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and the Ritsumeikan University College of International Relations presented reports at the symposium. The venue was filled to capacity with press representatives, students, and other interested parties eager to hear proceedings.
Mikio Yoshida, President of Ritsumeikan University, gave an opening address:
“A fter the last world war, Ritsumeikan University has been leading Japan’s post-war pacifism, contributing to long-term peace. However, the university will never forget that tragic event. The university did not have any other option but to send numerous young students to the warfront. The end of the war marked the beginning of a period of profound reflection and we rebuilt the university. We have been driving forward ever since with “Peace and Democracy” as our educational philosophy. However, dark clouds have once again appeared upon the horizon, and we cannot rely upon the efforts of the government alone. As private citizens, as a key university, it is our responsibility too to make full use of our abilities and to meet head on any approaching danger. With this in mind, I believe this symposium will become a pivotal part of the efforts to maintain peace in the region. It is my hope that the interactions between the audience and the distinguished panelists today will provide us with wisdom infused insight regarding these matters.”
Subsequently, Moon Chung-in delivered the keynote speech on the dangers related to North Korea following a congratulatory speech by Mason Richey, associate professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Mr. Moon appealed to the audience as follows:
“The South Korean government is working to achieve permanent peace to solve the nuclear problem of North Korea in a diplomatic and peaceful manner in principle. The country desires peace, not war, and it is necessary to move forward by looking back at the past and reflecting on it.”
Mr. Hill and Professor Yabunaka then went on to explain previous negotiations, with Mr. Hill going on to say:
“It is my hope that negotiations will continue along the lines of North Korea giving up further pursuit of nuclear arms and so making the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free. To this end, an open door policy to negotiations is a requirement, with negotiations not limited to the current six countries, but open to include as many countries as possible.”
Professor Yabunaka also expressed the opinion:
“I believe Japan has to clearly state where it stands, both internally and externally. If Japan took the initiative by proposing an emergency conference of the foreign ministers of the five other negotiating countries, with the hope that at some point North Korea agrees to participate, we can achieve some progress. It is important is that the current five countries strengthen their position.”