IARF in East Asia
The activities of IARF in Japan began in the 1950s, but the full scale operation began in the late 1960s. IARF’s Japan Liaison Committee was established in 1984 to cooperate the IARF 25th World Congress in Tokyo by five Japanese member groups such as Japan Free Religions Association, Itto-en, Konko Church of Izuo, Rissho Kosei-kai and Tsubaki Grand Shrine. The membership organizations as of 2018 are as follows: Itto-en, Konko Church of Izuo, Mutsumi-kai, Rissho Kosei-kai, Shitennoji Temple, Tamamitsu Shrine, IARF Japan Chapter (individual members) and IALRW Japan (IARF’s sister organization for women). JLC is engaged in international religious dialogue and activities to cultivate the spirit of IARF in Japan.
In 1984, the 25th IARF World Congress was held in Tokyo that had the theme of “Religious Path to Peace: Eastern Initiative and Western Response.” It proved to be a great success, having the greatest number of participants since the Congresses held before World War I.
Recently, the JLC has regular meetings 3-6 times per year, and it counted 207 times as of April 2018 since 1984. The secretariat of JLC is operated by member group’s yearly rotation, the budget is fully covered by the membership fee, and all the travel expenses of participants to each JLC program are borne by the participants.
JLC member groups keep supporting the IARF activities not only for personnel devotion serving as an International Council member, but also in financial contribution since our launch. For instance, almost the half of IARF’s income during 2017 was the contribution from JLC member groups.
The JLC’s official website’s URL as follows: http://www.relnet.co.jp/jlc/index.htm
Hong Kong Chapter (國際宗教自由協會香港分會)
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In May 2013, representatives from IARF Japan and IARF India introduced IARF to Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong. In 2014, IARF Hong Kong was approved as a chapter by international IARF.
IARF HK had its first activities in 2015. Their first event was a presentation about the situation of the Roman Catholic Church in mainland China. Their next activity that year was an interesting talk about Chinese Muslim groups in western China. In 2016, They hosted a presentation on the situation of the Sikhs in India. Later this year, IARF HK had a talk and discussion on the current religious and political situation in Turkey.
Although Hong Kong is part of China, IARF HK does not limit itself to just Chinese-related topics. They take a broad view of the current world situation. In 2017, IARF Hong Kong is planning to host a talk on religious freedom in Buddhist socities, especially with regards to the current dire situation in Myanmar.
In March, 2006, the 32nd World Congress was held in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, under the theme of “Dignity in Diversity” (https://iarf.net/congress/2006-taiwan/). Fo Guang Shan, IARF member group in Taiwan, offered generous support (they provided us not only the conference venue but also the accommodation meals for all participants throughout the Congress). In this Congress, we had involvement and participation of young adults. The young adults organized themselves in Taiwan to create an executive committee of their own, elect a young adult representative to serve on the Council, and committed themselves to help ensure stability in their own work. This led them to establish Religious Freedom Young Adult Network (RFYN).
In Aug. 1996, the 29th World Congress was held in Iksan City, Republic of Korea, with the cooperation of Wonkwang University which is in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the foundation. In the Congress that Won Buddhism played a leading role under the theme of “Spirituality, Responsibility, Cooperation”. It is particularly worth noting that IARF members of Japan and Korea engaged in a dialogue, and that the gathering of prayer was held at the 38th parallel of latitude (the inter-Korean ceasefire line). This Congress was the first occasion for IARF to present the records through internet.