By Keiko Sometani
Keiko Kobayashi is a talented Japanese actress, screenwriter, and producer who uses her art form to build bridges between people of different cultures with deep seated tensions. She has promoted peace and reconciliation through the award-winning film Jun-Ai, in which she co-starred, co-wrote, and co-produced. As an effort to bring about social transformation, she is currently producing the second Jun-Ai movie which imagines a reunified Korean peninsula and the beautiful human relationships that arise as well as the three nations of Korea, Japan and China developing harmonious relations.
Ms. Kobayashi, Chair of Jun-Ai World Peace Foundation and recipient of the Global Peace Foundation’s Promoting a Culture of Peace Award in 2017, was appointed Ambassador of the One K Global Campaign (One Korea Global Campaign) in December of 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. As the 100th Anniversary of the Korean Independence Movement approaches on March 1, 2019, Ms. Kobayashi is working to raise awareness and draw support for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula.
The Korean Independence Movement was a remarkable demonstration of the Korean people’s will to strive for independence from Japanese colonial rule and envision an enlightened nation that spreads peace to the world. The One K Campaign is reinvigorating the Korean reunification movement through the Korean Dream, a vision of a model nation of an engaged and virtuous citizenry, an ethical governing body that serves the people, and a culture grounded in the ideal of benefitting humanity.
“I realized that they had great desire to develop peace with Japan. The Declaration shows the vision which we need to pursue while there are many conflicts internationally.”
When a South Korean reporter from Sisa Journal asked Ms. Kobayashi whether she hesitated to support an event affiliated with the March 1 Movement as a Japanese, she immediately responded “not at all.” She explained that when she read the Declaration of Independence, she did not feel any anti-Japanese sentiment but felt the Korean peoples’ aspiration towards peace. She explained, “I realized that they had great desire to develop peace with Japan. The Declaration shows the vision which we need to pursue while there are many conflicts internationally.”
While Koreans had lost their national sovereignty, they had gathered in mass peaceful demonstrations and courageously read their Declaration of Independence at public venues across Seoul on March 1, 1919. As Ms. Kobayashi shared, the declaration reflects the spirit of peace and going beyond enmity:
“We claim independence in the interest of the eternal and free development of our people and in accordance with the great movement for world reform based upon the awakening conscience of mankind. This is the clear command of heaven, the course of our times, and a legitimate manifestation of the right of all nations to coexist and live in harmony…”
“…we shall not blame Japan; we must first blame ourselves before finding fault with others. Because of the urgent need for remedies for the problems of today, we cannot afford the time for recriminations over past wrongs.”
“To correct past mistakes and open a new phase of friendship based upon genuine understanding and sympathy – is this not the easiest way to avoid disaster and invite blessing?”
The One K Campaign is renewing hope and building a sense of unity within the hearts of the Korean people in reunifying their homeland, a sentiment the Declaration of Independence conveyed nearly 100 years ago in the context of colonization:
“All of us, men and women, young and old, have firmly left behind the old nest of darkness and gloom and head for joyful resurrection with the myriad living things. The spirts of thousands of generations of our ancestors protect us; the rising tide of world consciousness shall assist us. Once started, we shall surely succeed. With this hope, we march forward.”