for ‘Repentance Stone’ at Dong-guk-sa Temple in Gunsan
In a Korean temple, 68 years after Korean independence from Japanese Imperialism, the Japanese Buddhist community has erected a memorial stone to show repentance and ask for Korea’s pardon for their country’s brutal acts.
Ichinohe Shogo (一戶彰晃: the abbot of Unsang-sa Temple in Aomori, Japan), who is the president of Toshikai (東支會: the group which supports the Dong-guk-sa Temple), the organization in Japan that played a decisive role in establishing the stone of repentance and apology, unveiled this monument at Dong-guk-sa Temple in Gunsan on September 16th, and showed penitence about his country’s atrocities by lowering his head.
Sunim Shogo said, “The Japanese Buddhist community cooperated with the government power. That government power had been pushing ahead with modernization, and the Japanese Buddhist community participated in the war. We repent our role in inflicting ineffaceable injuries on East Asian peoples and humbly beg pardon.”
He finished his brief address saying, “I pray wholeheartedly that you will accept this stone as the conscience of Japanese Buddhism.”
The sunims of the Japanese Soto Zen School, joined together with a group of Korean sunims to unveil the stone of repentance and apology at Dong-guk-sa Temple in Gunsan.
The stone, which was erected in the front yard of Dong-guk-sa Temple, is three meters in width and 2.3 meters in height, with an inscription in Japanese and a Korean translation; the type of stone used for this monument is domestic hwangdeungseok (a type of granite stone) produced in Jeonbuk Iksan. This repentance stone memorializes a Buddhistic repentance and apology for the atrocities Japan had committed which was announced twenty years ago by the Japanese Soto Zen School.
The epitaph inscribed on the stone clearly reads, “The past political power had been infringing on the human rights of many Asian people under the cloak of overseas propagation of Dharma. It was totally unworthy of Buddhists to have committed such behaviors as it went against the Buddha’s teaching in the name of Shakyamuni, the World Honored One. While deeply apologizing to Asian people, who suffered from suppression by Japan in the past, we truly make an apology for the errors of the Soto Zen School, which propagated Dharma from the standpoint of the assailant of Asian people.”
[불교신문 2853호/ 10월3일자]