Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President William G. Sinkford arrived in Sapporo, Japan on July 2, 2008, to participate in the "World Religious Leaders Summit for Peace" scheduled prior to the start of the G-8 Summit of World Leaders in Japan (July 5-6). The gathering brought together senior religious leaders from the world’s faith traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Shintoism and Zoroastrianism—as well as Unitarian Universalism. The religious leaders were united in their call to the G8 to take "bold action" in response to "threats that confront humanity, including the destruction of the environment and climate change, extreme global poverty and deteriorating food security, nuclear arms, terrorism and violent conflict." For each of these threats the religious leaders urged the G8 to make specific commitments, including:
- Establish a new binding framework to follow up the Kyoto Protocols that limits global average temperature rise to avert catastrophic climate change.
- Take leadership to ensure the achievement of the UN Millenium Development Goals, including on the Gleaneagles aid quantity and quality promises.
- Pursue rigorous implementation of nuclear reduction and nonproliferation policies leading to the goal of total nuclear disarmament.
- Re-affirm and strengthen its commitment to standards of international law in its efforts to counteract terrorism and promote international security.
"…as long as we choose to take the comfortable moral high ground and issue pronouncements from that promontory, we will be welcome to stay there, on the sidelines… This religious leaders summit is an invitation to leave that safe promontory… On the brink of a gathering of political powerhouses this week, let us claim our own inter-related, interdependent power: a global communion of the faithful—the Hands of the Holy who cannot be denied."Rev. Sinkford’s remarks were confessional, clearly recognizing that the United States has repeatedly failed to act interdependently and has refused to be a participant in global agreements on climate change. And yet, he also noted the leadership that the interfaith community—including Unitarian Universalists—are offering through prayer, legislative advocacy and by "green-ing" their facilities. President Sinkford concluded by stating,
"The G8 political leaders will shortly arrive. The prophets among us must appeal to those among them who have ears to hear. But let us also make our own promises to them: that we are not waiting for them, that we are today’s stewards of policies and imperatives from the world of faith. Let them be advised, let a message of expectation be served, but most importantly, let them hear our promise: a promise of hope and commitment—to a world made fair and all her people one."See the complete text of President Sinkford's speech (PDF). Following the conclusion of the religious summit, President Sinkford traveled on to Tokyo to meet with leaders of Rissho Kosei-kai (RKK), a 6.5-million member lay-Buddhist movement and decades-long interfaith partner of the UUA. This was President Sinkford’s first opportunity to meet with the recently elected chairman of RKK—Reverend Yasutaka Watanabe—as well as the Director and Deputy-Director of External Affairs for RKK—Reverends Takeshi Kawabata and Keichi Akagawa. The RKK and UUA are enthusiastic to pursue new opportunities for engagement.