Although it was well past midnight, the Japanese and Korean high school students were wide-awake and chatting like fast friends on the last day of Peace Camp in South Korea.

When camp began a week earlier, we could not have imagined the animated scene before us. Due to linguistic and cultural barriers, the Japanese and Koreans were at first reluctant to interact, but now they were happily reaching out to one another in genuine friendship and unity.

The idea for Peace Camp came from the Kobe YWCA (where I recently served as president) right after the great earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of northern Japan in 2011. Kobe also experienced a disastrous earthquake in 1995 so the Y felt moved to serve its neighbors to the north.

One way has been to provide those who live in areas affected by nuclear radiation times of respite elsewhere. Because the Kobe Y has a sister relationship with the one in Seoul, we joined hands to take a group of Japanese youth from the radiation areas to Korea for a peace camp with Korean peers.

With its long history of invasions, colonialism, and mutual antipathy, and now an escalating territorial dispute, the relationship between Japan and Korea is difficult. However, seeing Japanese and Korean youth find friendship and come to realize that peace cannot be achieved by force inspired me with hope for the future.

It is as if Isaiah’s prophecy — “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them” (11:6) — is coming to fruition.

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