The cofounder of the Japanese Peace Boat organization on Monday received a “love of lives” award from the Chou Ta-Kuan Foundation (周大觀文教基金會) in recognition of the group’s peace-promotion efforts.
Tatsuya Yoshioka arrived in Keelung aboard a vessel from the Peace Boat organization along with hundreds of young Japanese and South Koreans, and was welcomed with music played by Taiwanese cellist Chang Chen-chieh (張正傑).
Yoshioka received the foundation’s Fervent Global Love of Life Medal aboard the ship from Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), who praised the Japanese activist as a peace-loving person who takes action to fulfill his ideals.
Yoshioha’s boats have traveled the world pushing for peace dialogues and education for the past 30 years.
Wu also expressed appreciation for Yoshioka’s support for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) East China Sea peace initiative, which he proposed after Japan in September last year nationalized three islets in the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — known as the Senkakus in Japan — a move that sparked protests in Taiwan and China, which also claim the uninhabited islands.
A “Peace Boat” has visited 89 countries over several decades, carrying more than 200,000 young people who have worked on issues such as finding solutions to the conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as promote peace talks between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Past voyages have also taken Peace Boat activists to the Middle East to protest the Gulf War, to French Polynesia to protest nuclear testing by France and to Iraq to protest US military action.
Yoshioka, who cofounded the Peace Boat in 1983 in response to perceived attempts by Japanese textbooks to whitewash the country’s wartime past in Asia, said Japan was responsible for a period of pain in the region and expressed hope that his country can contribute to a better future for the world.
He said he still had a long way to go and the award would help to push him forward.
He also spoke about Taiwanese poet Chou Ta-kuan (周大觀), after which the foundation is named, describing him as a “miracle child.”
“Chou lost a courageous fight with cancer [in 1997 at the age of 10], but left a legacy of 42 poems, which have been translated into many languages, bringing hope and courage to people all over the globe,” Yoshioka said.