Fri, Jul 16, 2004 - Page 2 News List

A Japanese NGO sails the seas to publicize peace

By Caroline Hong  /  STAFF REPORTER

Peace Boat, a Japan-based non-governmental organization (NGO) known for its efforts to promote world peace through luxury liner cruises, is kicking off its 46th Peace Voyage with Taiwan as its first stop, the organization's representatives said at a press conference yesterday.

The trip is being sponsored in Taiwan by the Peacetime Foundation. Peace Boat is known for its educational global sailing voyages, on which passengers promote messages of peace and interact with local NGOs and people to increase collaboration for peace worldwide.

This summer's three-month trip will mark the 46th Peace Boat global voyage since the organization's founding in 1983. The trip's title is "Olympic Truce 2004," reflecting the organization's hope of bringing an end to conflict around the world.

Historically, explained Peace Boat executive committee member Mari Kushibuchi, the original Olympics were a time when all the Hellenic nations came together in a truce, and all conflict between the countries was suspended for the duration of the games.

With this voyage, Kushibuchi said, the organization hopes to inspire people to put an end to violence, in the spirit of the ancient Olympic games.

"There has been a great amount of violence in the world recently, with the constant battling in Iraq and in Asia.

"We hope this voyage can spread a message of hope and reconciliation," she said.

Taiwan was chosen as the first stop of the voyage because of its importance to the stability of Asia, said Kushibuchi.

"The state of the relationship between Taiwan and China has a strong impact on peace in Southeast Asia. We do not believe that it is reasonable to use military force to invade Taiwan, and we encourage non-profit organizations in Taiwan and in the region to promote peaceful solutions," said Kushibuchi.

Both Peace Boat and Peacetime Foundation representatives stressed that NGOs have an important role to play.

"Taiwan's hands are tied when it comes to foreign and cross-strait relations politically, but NGOs have a lot of power, because our position is more flexible," said Peacetime Foundation executive director Chien Hsi-chieh.

Peace Boat decided to work with the Peacetime Foundation because of their similar pacifist goals, the groups said.

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