On the day of arrival in Tokyo for a six-day visit Rajmohan Gandhi, President of IofC International, met for 30 minutes with Prim Minister Yukio Hatoyama. He was accompanied by Yukihisa Fujita, a Member of the Diet, and by Hironori Yano, President of IofC Japan.
At a time when the Prime Minister is wrestling with scandals in his government, severe economic problems and sliding support over unpopular decisions, Mr Gandhi commented that success or failure is determined not by media reports or opinion polls, but by our consciences and by history. He appreciated Mr Hatoyama’s focus on understanding the moral roots of economic crisis.
In a major policy speech in the Diet in January this year, Mr Hatoyama had asked how government should control the ‘excesses’ of the capitalist society and had quoted Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Seven Social Sins’ which are inscribed at Gandhi’s memorial in Delhi:
- ‘Politics without principles;
- Wealth without work;
- Pleasure without conscience;
- Knowledge without character;
- Commerce without morality;
- Science without humanity; and
- Worship without sacrifice.’
According to the Prime Minister, Gandhi’s words point ‘incisively to the problems facing Japan and the world today’. At the interview yesterday, Professor Gandhi noted that the Indian media had reported this policy speech favourably.
In response, the Prime Minister commented that when he speaks of such moral questions, some accuse him of hypocrisy, but that is what he really believes in.
Professor Gandhi also voiced his respect for the Prime Minister’s striving for an Asian community, which IofC has ‘endeavoured to support by creating a small-scale, non-state community of Asians from numerous countries committed to moral principles’.
The Prime Minister remembered speaking at the IofC international conference in Caux, Switzerland, in 1996 and asked about the current program. Mr Gandhi was able to update him on development of the Caux Forum for Human Security, the next of which takes place in July.
Mr Fujita, who accompanied Mr Hatoyama on his visit to Caux, reminded Mr Hatoyama that his grandfather – when also Prime Minister in the 1950s – had supported and encouraged MRA (as Initiatives of Change was then known) in making its contribution to peace-building efforts in post-war Japan. It is now 50 years since a high level Japanese delegation came to Caux, the first after the end of War. It included the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the governors of seven prefectures and Prrime Minister Yasuhiru Nakasone.
Professor Gandhi had assisted Mr Hatoyama and Mr Fujita when they visited New Delhi 13 years ago.
Following the meeting, Professor Gandhi was questioned by the media at the Prime Minister’s office. His visit includes lectures at the Ozaki Yukio Memorial Foundation and the 33rd annual international conference of IofC Japan.