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The Power of Peace

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    U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, left, and Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui signed documents creating a sister park arrangement between the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)
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    People visit Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan. (Kyodo via AP Images)
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    An aerial photo shows the memorial facility built over the submerged battleship USS Arizona (bottom), and the USS Missouri (top) in Oahu, Hawaii. (The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP Images)
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    A journalist examines the destruction at Hiroshima, Japan, about a month after the dropping of the atomic bomb on the city on August 6, 1945. (AP)
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    Students in Honolulu, Hawaii, watch their school burn after the roof of the main building was hit by a bomb during the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. (AP)
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What does reconciliation look like?

Japan and the United States want to set an example for the world. In June, Japan’s Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor Memorial became sister parks. These two locations symbolize the worst moments of conflict between the two nations. Now officials hope they will represent something new: peace.

On December 7, 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. Japanese bombers killed 2,403 Americans, including military members and civilians. World War II had been raging for just over two years. The United States had stayed out of the conflict. After Pearl Harbor, it joined the fray.

On August 6, 1945, the United States carried out its own surprise attack. U.S. forces dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, the United States dropped another such weapon on the city of Nagasaki. The attacks killed an estimated 210,000 people. Within a week, Japan surrendered.

After so much death and destruction, it seems impossible that the two nations could become allies. But that’s what happened. Today, leaders from both nations have a message for the world: Reconciliation is possible.

For visitors, Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial and Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor Memorial offer powerful reminders of a history of tragedy. “Nobody can go to Pearl Harbor, and nobody can go to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and enter the front door, walk out the exit door, and be the same person,” says U.S. ambassador Rahm Emanuel.

You might think such remembrances would rub salt into old wounds. But Japan and the United States want these memorials to promote healing.

The two memorials are now sister parks. They will share resources as well as expertise in digital technologies. The partnership will help make the parks powerful educational experiences for visitors. But more than bringing practical benefits, the agreement serves as a symbol of reconciliation.

“The sister arrangement between the two parks related to the beginning and end of the war will be a proof that mankind, despite making the mistake of waging a war, can come to senses and [reconcile] and pursue peace,” says Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui.

Reconciliation is a crucial biblical theme. As sinful people, we were once enemies of God. But through the work of Jesus, God reconciled us to Himself. Now we have the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18) We can strive to make peace with others. More importantly, we are ambassadors of Christ. We can invite our neighbors into God’s family. 

Why? Reconciliation makes it possible to have true peace with others, even if we’ve hurt one another.

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