Asia Pacific ILC2020 Opens with Focus on Regional Cooperation Initiative

Asia Pacific—The Opening Plenary of the ILC2020—Asia Pacific program was held on September 11, 2020, under the theme, “Opportunity and Hope at a Time of Global Crisis,” and began with representatives of four faith traditions, Buddhist, Catholic, Hindu and Islam, offering prayers. Three speakers highlighted the importance of creating a union of Asian nations. The co-founder of UPF, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, first raised this concept publicly in Japan in October 2019 and referred to it as the Asia Pacific Union (APU). Since then the Cambodian Prime Minister H.E. Hun Sen has supported the notion as has former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Broadly, the APU would use the cultural, historical and geographical intersection of the Pacific rim countries to form a common footing for larger multilateral cooperation. Specially mentioned were the values of filial piety, a dominance of moral and spiritual principles and a strong family-centered social underpinning.

Two other speakers addressed UPF’s values of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values. This was called a “people-centric approach,” and the model used to explain this was the ancient Indian philosophical concept vashudaiva kutumbakam or “the world is one family.” This concept of universal values inevitably suggests a global ethics, a set of basic moral principles that are shared by virtually all cultures, religions and civilizations. Once again it became clear that such values originate in and emerge from family relationships since it is the family that is the most fundamental, ubiquitous social institution in human history.

Abbreviated remarks of speakers:

Prof. Yeon Ah Moon, chair of UPF-Korea:  The UPF co-founders, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, had predicted that all civilizations will come to fruition in the era of the Pacific civilization. The Atlantic civilization, which was developed around the Christian foundation, has lost its original values and has become a culture that takes from others. Therefore, the co-founders have emphasized that the Pacific civilization should not exploit and dominate others. Instead, it should become an “altruistic civilization” whose motivation comes from Heavenly Parent’s love that gives to humankind continuously.

After the passing of Rev. Moon in 2012, Dr. Moon has been reinforcing cooperation through the formation of alliances in the fields of religion, politics, academia, media and the economy through global Rallies of Hope, World Summits and International Leadership Conferences in each continent. She has also led continuous peace movements for the realization of peace and the Pacific civilization.

Furthermore, in 2019, she proposed the formation of the Asia Pacific Union, which will come to play a central role in the realization of world peace, during the Japan Summit and Leadership Conference in Nagoya, Japan. The proposal has been further developed through the Phnom Penh Declaration, which was drafted at the Asia-Pacific Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and resolved the launching of the Asia-Pacific Union.

The Asia Pacific Union is based on the common cultural values of the Asia-Pacific region: filial piety, family and faith. And it will provide an opportunity for countries to come together, cooperate and unite in order to resolve the global difficulties we all face together.

Rev. Masayoshi Kajikuri, chair of UPF-Japan: The focus of the founders’ vision has been the realization of one human family under God, the common true parent of mankind, while everlasting peace would be built by practicing the true love of living for the sake of others.

Dr. Moon has been carrying on the legacy of her husband, enlarging the network of leaders dedicated to building a worldwide community of peace.  At the Japan Summit and Leadership Conference held in Nagoya, Japan last year, Mrs. Moon presented the idea of forming an Asia Pacific Union that will foster lasting peace among the community of Asia Pacific nations, including Japan and Korea. 

Rev. Kajikuri also said: “On the 15th anniversary of UPF’s founding, I find it very meaningful that all of us, from Japan, Korea and other countries in Asia, have gathered together in response to the founders’ vision of peace and to deliberate on the post-COVID-19 global system, and are dedicating our thoughts and wisdom towards realizing the vision of the Asia Pacific Union.”

Dr. Chung Sik Yong, regional group chair of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU)-Asia Pacific: UPF is one of the most active peace organizations in the Asia Pacific region. It supported Nepal’s successful peace process through a series of South Asia Peace Initiatives, initiated an interfaith council in Thailand and started a peace initiative in the southern provinces of the Philippines. Furthermore, UPF encourages Pacific island nations in their efforts to protect the environment and conducts effective character education programs in India, Indonesia, the Philippines and many other Asian nations. In addition to this, it works collaboratively with the governments of Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Palau and more.

One of Dr. Moon’s main projects for UPF in the region is the establishment of an Asia Pacific Union. She first mentioned it in Nagoya, Japan in October 2019. A month later in Phnom Penh, Cambodia at the Asia Pacific Summit, Cambodian Prime Minister H.E. Hun Sen expressed his support for this initiative. Most recently, at the virtual Rally of Hope on August 9, former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon acknowledged Dr. Moon’s efforts to further the cause of peace, specifically noting the Asia Pacific Union.

The purpose of this Union is to find common ground among nations in this region and set a standard for world peace. Traditionally, Asian Pacific cultures promote the virtue of filial piety, support the centrality of the family and foster the freedom of faith. We need to restore these universal values, because monetary and military power alone cannot be the foundation for lasting peace and development.

Excessive individualism is destructive because it violates the most fundamental principle of living for the sake of others. Only when we learn to live for others and practice a life of altruism, can we develop institutions, societies, nations and a world that is peaceful, prosperous and sustainable.

This is the reason the family is so essential. It is called our first school precisely because this universal principle is taught here. The family is where character is developed, loves are learned, life is conceived and lineages are handed down to the next generation. These moral and ethical values need to be at the heart of the Asia Pacific Union.

Hon. Bhubaneswar Kalita, member of parliament, India; chairman of IAPP-South Asia: Had we been in the old, normal situation, we would have gathered in Korea during this time for the commemoration of the 8th anniversary of the holy ascension of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon and the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the founding of UPF. Even though we are not able to meet each other at this time, it’s great a blessing of modern technology that we can hold these great events virtually.

Indian Prime Minister H.E. Narendra Modi said: “The definition of self-reliance is changing in today’s world. Today, it is about self-centered approach rather than a people-centric approach. But this is not India’s philosophy. India’s culture is about becoming self-reliant whose soul is ‘world is one family’.”

Yes, the soul of India is the “world is one family,” cited as vashudaiva kutumbakam in the oldest scripture of the world. It gives me immense pleasure to see UPF advocating the same philosophy through its enormous efforts around the world.  All the problems and crises in the world can be settled through dialogue centering on the ideals of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.

We have no option other than interdependence for achieving mutual prosperity. For this we need to find the common values and ideals applicable to all, the universal shared values. This is the idea whose time has come.

Dr. Thomas Walsh, chair of UPF International: Our goal with this ILC2020 is to explore our way forward. We will consider how we might turn tragic circumstances into opportunities to correct some of our collective deformities and dysfunctions as humanity—extreme inequality, injustice, failures to take responsibility, corruption, disrespect for each other and for the environment. How can we build a better world, working together in a spirit of multilateral cooperation? 

How can we rediscover the common ground, the core values that bind us together as one family of humanity, in such a way that our particular identities, ethnicity, nationality, race, gender, religion and worldview, as important as they are, do not divide and separate us; do not undermine that greater solidarity that will be essential if we are to solve our most serious problems.

UPF underscores the values of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.  Interdependence indicates that we are bound together as one people, and that what affects any of us in some ways affects us all. Interdependence suggests the need for cooperation over competition, collaboration over hegemony, common cause over quests to divide and conquer.  Interdependence affirms mutual respect, and the universal dignity of every person. In an interdependent world, nations seek peaceful resolution of conflict and they seek multilateral agreements that benefit the entire world.

The idea of mutual prosperity proposes that the fruits of human endeavor and human labor can be equitably shared, with systems in place that help assure wide distribution of benefits; not through coercive measures that suppress human freedom and voluntarism, but by means of a higher moral sensibility and vision. If all people live and act responsibly, neither taking excessively nor failing in their duties to contribute to the common good, then prosperity will rise, for all people.

Both interdependence and mutual prosperity require a foundation in values and principles. To some extent the concept of universal values suggests a global ethics that is a set of basic moral principles that are shared by virtually all cultures, religions and civilizations.  Valuing all human life, mutual respect, avoiding violence, commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict, responsible care of the natural world, the environment. We are moral and spiritual beings.  When we lose sight of this fact, we decline, even when it appears that we are strong and powerful; without a moral or spiritual foundation, that strength, that power will decline. In this sense, religion is extremely important, serving as the well spring for many, if not all of our world’s core moral principles.

To go back to the executive summary for the Asia Pacific ILC, click here.

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