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Jodo Shin Buddhism Hongwanji-ha Issues Statement Calling for Ceasefire in Gaza

Updated: 21 hours ago

Honzan Urges End to War Between Israel, Hamas

Editor’s note: Nishi Hongwanji is the Honzan, or mother temple, of the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha branch of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. This statement from the Governor General was originally distributed in Japanese on Nov. 17, 2023. The Buddhist Churches of America received an official English translation on April 16. 


On Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, we, the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha Buddhist organization, adopted the following resolution on the occasion of our annual General Assembly (March 4, 2022); “As people of Japan, the only nation that has been hit by atomic bombs, as Buddhists who cherish every life, and as Nembutsu followers who aspire for peace across the world, we condemn this aggression by disapproving the self-righteous excuses made by the authoritarian government. As learning from human history, we wish for this war to end at once.” Sadly, we must restate this passage once again as another armed conflict now takes place.

Triggered by Hamas’ October 7, 2023, missile attack, the warfare between Israel and Hamas has brought about a hellish situation to the Gaza Strip. A devastating attack by Israeli military of a hospital in Gaza City has stood out as an outrageous example of warfare’s cruelty and unlawfulness. This is a battle between armed forces who uses unarmed civilians as their human shield and the world’s leading powerful military who doesn’t mind victimizing those people. Lost in such battle are civilians’ lives, many of whom are women and children. As of November 11, 2023, it was reported that 11,000 people have been killed, of which more than 40 percent or 4,506 were children. 

During a November 6, 2023, interview, United Nations Secretary-General  Antonio Guterres described the situation, saying, “Gaza is becoming a graveyard for children,” and hearing so has struck our hearts greatly.

Shinran, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu teaching, had also lived during a warring age in which many people suffered. Identifying himself as one (of) them, he described the most marginalized people as “they are … none other than we, who are like stones and tiles and pebbles.” 

Shinran never wished for his own happiness only, and in reference to himself and others as “we,” represents his deep feeling of bond with all humanity tied together through the Nembutsu teaching. It is a matter, of course, that we would like to have his teaching as the basis of our lives, but it is also necessary for us to learn from his way of living.

As the saying goes, “Nobody wins a war.” In the first of the Forty-eight Vows that says “there should not be hell, the realm of hungry spirits, or the realm of animals in my land,” Amida Tathagata pledged to guide us to a world that is free from suffering. 

As Nembutsu followers who have encountered this Buddha’s wish, we naturally come to aspire for a world in which everyone can live in peace and harmony. In accord with the Buddha’s vow, in consideration of those who have been suffering from this battle, we call for immediate ceasefire and an end to war.

November 23, 2023

Governor General IKEDA Gyoshin

Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha



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