9 The floating peace village: an experiment in nonviolence YO SH I OKA TATS UYA
It was 1983 when a group of university friends began the project Peace Boat – a floating peace village. Twenty-five years later, Peace Boat is a recognised Japan-based, international NGO that works to promote peace and sustainability through the organisation of global voyages on board a large passenger ship. Each voyage takes up to 1,000 people from all walks of life for three months, calling at an average of 20 countries. On board, participants attend various peace education programmes such as the Global University and, while in ports, we interact with the local people to share cultural exchange programmes and joint cooperation activities. These activities are carried out on a partnership basis with other civil society organisations and communities around the world. Our original motivation was the controversy over the revision of history textbooks in Japan in the early 1980s. As university students at the time, we all felt a great sense of crisis due to the misleading historical texts about the Japanese army’s invasions throughout the Asia-Pacific region and Japan’s actions during World War II. Those of us standing on the side of the historical perpetrators of violence prefer to forget about these truths, and a decisive gap in historical recognition develops between us and those standing on the other side of history – those whose lands were invaded and who will never be able to forget the violence. In our view, this would render eventual reconciliation and the establishment of true friendly relations impossible.