We have had the honor of inviting Ms. Keiko Holmes from Agape World to our campus at Tochigi to present her message on peace and reconciliation to the ARI community. As the Japanese coordinator for Agape World which is an organization dedicated to promote reconciliation between Japan and her former World War II prisoners of war (POWs), Ms. Keiko is no doubt a well-fitted speaker for this topic.
Her presentation to the ARI community was full of personal stories which touched the hearts of all who listened. We marveled at how her own personal tragic story led to a mission of touching great grief and trauma in the lives of those who experienced the horrors of war. Yet, the story does not end there; with boldness she pushed forward to encourage people on both sides of war to meet each other, find space for an apology, and reconcile with one another, finding friendship blossom from the seeds of forgiveness.
At the end of her presentation, she and her team, joined by ARI Director Tomoko-san, issued a deep apology for the mistakes and crimes that Japan had committed in World War II to the ARI community, wherein many Asian countries were represented. Her humble posture was deeply moving to everyone present, and in that moment the community realized that they were not just listeners, but direct participants of a peacemaking process. This further drove home the point that anyone and everyone can be agents of peace, when we are willing to apologize and accept one’s apology humbly and gracefully.
Ms. Keiko’s stories convey to us a sense of hope, that evil and suffering will not be the end, but that peace and love can have the final say.