Report on IIPE 2012 in Japan
(GCPEJ, Global Campain for Peace Education Japan) chief secretary
(Translated by Nara Katsuyuki)
A total of 35 persons from 11 countries took part in a 9-day-long meeting (August 11-19, 2012) of IIPE (International Institute on Peace Education) held at NWEC (National Women’s Education Center) in Saitama, Japan. The meeting was supported by Shin-eiken, New English Teachers Association which I belong to. In the past IIPE meetings, an average of 60 persons from Africa, Asia, South America and so on took part, but this year the number of participants declined for some reasons, including absence of subsidies. From Japan 15 persons attended it.
IIPE was founded by Betty A. Reardon, professor at Columbia University, and others 30 years ago. In 1982, the first IIPE was held at Teachers College, Columbia University. Its secretariat has currently been operated by the National Peace Academy. The first IIPE meet in Japan was held at Tokyo YMCA in 1982, and the next at ICU in 1996. I got acquainted with Tottori University professor Mr. Kip Cates through these meets. Seisen University professor Ketty Matsui and Kobe University professor Lonnie Alexander joined this event before.
IIPE is operated throughout sessions in English, and unlike other academic conferences, it is characterized by participatory-type workshops. Our meeting is comprised of plenary, workshop sessions, and reflection group meetings. Participants are able to fit in with each other through sessions, including culture presentations. They are researchers, school teachers, and NGO staff. From Shin-eiken, Ms. Akamatsu Atsuko, Nomura Kenji, Kikuchi Keiko, Nara Katsuyuki, and I took part.
The past Japan’s peace education was mainly featured by conveying to others miseries of war, including atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, this year’s IIPE focused on discussing peace education from wider perspectives. It involved perspectives on ecology such as the relationship between agriculture and food issues. Betty Reardon once insisted on “comprehensive peace education.” She emphasized that causes of war reside in patriarchy system and gender issues. She also took notice of “Earth Charter,” and considered ecology to be basis of peace. In my view, this IIPE meet seems to have made holistic approach to peace education.
Kikuchi pointed out perspectives of biodiversity at the plenary session and workshops. She said that activists of “seed-savings” and anti-GMO (genetically-modified organism) accuse multi-national enterprises of virtually ruling world agriculture, threatening lives of local farmers. A Peace Boat staff member said, “We once had youths of Israel and Palestine share the same boat to gain mutual understanding between them.” She also introduced a story of “Village of Kinokuni Children (in Wakayama Prefecture).” Through their presentations I was able to understand that biodiversity, “nonformal” reconciliation, and alternative education include peace education.
Nara, one-day participant on September 15th, said that he was impressed with peace scholar Mushakoji Kinhide’s speech. Kakuta Naoko noted from his speech that Japan should sincerely apologize to Asian countries for imposing its colonial rule. Nomura, teachers’ union leader in Hokkaido, told about education issues facing Japan. Akamatsu introduced a peace picture book named “Machinto,” and made presentations at workshops.
IIPE is to meet at Puerto Rico next year. The country is virtually a colony of the U.S., and still has numerous conflicts. Since it is to meet early July, it seems somewhat difficult for participants to attend it for occupational schedule, but I wish more younger teachers would attend it so that they could connect themselves with the rest of the world.