Tenrikyo Student Gives Speech to G8 Leaders

Between June 6 and 8, the G8 Summit was held in Heiligendamm, Germany. Parallel to the G8 Summit, children and young people met at their own Junior 8 (J8) Summit in Wismar, Germany, to discuss some of the major global issues on this year’s G8 agenda. Miki Michelle Nakajima, daughter of a Tenrikyo minister, took part in the J8 Summit as a leader of the Japanese delegates.

Each team for the J8 Summit first participated in the J8 Competition to win the chance to represent their country at the J8 Summit 2007. To enter the competition, each team did research and came up with its own solutions to four of the G8 agenda items: (1) Prospects for economic development in Africa; (2) HIV/AIDS; (3) Climate change and energy efficiency; and (4) New global challenges: intellectual property rights and corporate social responsibility. Each team then submitted its entry online through the official J8 Summit website. These entries were then judged by a specially selected panel in each country, which chose the team with the best entry to take part in the J8 Summit. This year, there were 18 entries in Japan, and the team from Hiroo Gakuen High School won the competition to represent Japan.

On June 2, the Japanese delegates arrived in Wismar, Germany, in preparation for the J8 Summit. The next day, 64 young people from G8 countries and 10 from developing countries gathered in Wismar for a week-long forum to discuss the four major issues. Discussions were conducted in English, and the delegates from around the world were eager to share their ideas and recommendations. While many of the Japanese delegates shied away from speaking up during discussions, Miki was determined not to let the opportunity slip by. Her active participation and leadership throughout the summit brought recognition from her peers, and she was elected as one of the J8 representatives to meet with the G8 leaders in Heiligendamm.

In one of the discussions in Wismar, it was proposed that an African participant should join the representatives from industrialized nations when they met face to face with the G8 leaders to discuss economic development in Africa and HIV/AIDS. On June 5, when the J8 delegates met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, they successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a Tanzanian participant to present the J8 recommendations to the world leaders attending the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm.

On June 6, the nine delegates, including the Tanzanian participant, gave a press conference, at which they announced their J8 Summit Wismar Declaration. The Declaration included recommendations to the G8 leaders on four global issues: (1) Economic prospects for Africa, (2) HIV/AIDS, (3) Intellectual property rights, and (4) Global warming. In concluding their message to the G8 leaders, they said: “Our reason for being here is to make a change. We will continue to address the challenges which confront our world to the best of our abilities. In seeking to resolve these challenges, we need your support. . . . Together it is possible to make a difference. Let’s act now.”

On June 7, Miki and eight other delegates took part in the round table discussion at Heiligendamm, where they presented their recommendations to the G8 leaders. During the discussion, Miki gave a speech as the representative from the host nation of next year’s G8 Summit, which will be held in the Japanese city of Toyako in Hokkaido. She said: “We will continue to talk about these global issues and pass these messages on to young people in Japan and the world. Next year’s G8 Summit will be held in Japan, and we hope that there will be many children and young people at the summit.”

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Miki’s mother, Yukiko Nakajima, entered the Tenrikyo faith through the guidance of Rev. Tomonaga Akeyama, the former head minister of Honsaka Branch Church. Even after Yukiko moved to Australia and gave birth to Miki, the Nakajima family continued to be active in following the faith. They made pilgrimages to Jiba several times. After Tenrikyo Oceania Centre was opened in 1997, the family regularly attended the centre’s monthly services, and Miki was one of the most frequent participants in the TOC Children’s Sleepovers until her family relocated to Tokyo last year.

Miki attended Tenri Elementary School when she was in the first and third grades. “Although I was born and raised in Australia, whenever I return to Jiba, I always feel that this is my home,” says Miki. “I love returning to Jiba because I can feel the protection of God the Parent as well as the warmth of Oyasama.” When Miki transferred to Tenri Junior High School last September, she had some difficulty in making the transition from an Australian school to a Japanese school, especially in her academic work. The teachers at Tenri Junior High School gave her special intensive classes to help her catch up. After school, Miki would go to the Overseas Department, where the staff members involved in Education for Children from Overseas gave her specialized instruction.

Looking back on her childhood, she said: “I was able to graduate because of the generous support that I received from so many people. And I am truly grateful for that.” Currently, she attends Hiroo Gakuen High School, where she is one of the first students in its International Programme as well as a member of the school’s cheerleading squad.

Ever since Miki took part in the J8 Summit, she has been giving lots of thought to her future. When she first learned that she had been chosen as one of the delegates to the summit, her reaction was initially surprise, then anxiety. Gradually, however, she began to realize that it was God the Parent who chose her to take on this important responsibility. She said: “Giving a speech in front of world leaders was truly a precious experience. However, I have come to realize that the most important thing for us J8 delegates to do is to convey our recommendations to as many people as possible and to implement our proposed solutions.” Talking in a decisive tone of voice, she said: “I believe that it was God the Parent and Oyasama who guided me to come to this realization. From now on, I want to give thought to what I can do for world salvation.”

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