NAGOYA, Japan— About 40,000 people filled an expo center Sunday to hear calls for bridging the historic tensions between South Korea and Japan through the power of family ideals and religion.
The convocation sponsored by the Universal Peace Federation featured lawmakers from both countries, current and former U.S. officials and a keynote address by Hak Ja Han Moon, widow of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church.
“I believe that Korea and Japan share a common ancestry,” Mrs. Moon said, adding that all Pacific rim nations should “unite as one for the sake of peace.”
She also said leaders of all nations should begin each day with prayer.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the huge gathering and a joint leadership conference were taking place “at a particularly delicate time” in northeast Asia.
“The worldwide movement you represent truly is one of the great hopes for the future of freedom and world peace,” he said. “All of us have a great deal at stake.”
Tensions between Seoul and Tokyo are running high, and North Korea said Saturday it was breaking off the latest round of denuclearization talks with the U.S., accusing the Trump administration of offering no new proposals. U.S. officials said negotiations had not broken down.
Much of the four-hour convocation highlighted music and dance performances by Japanese and Korean students pledging to bring the two nations closer together. Several religious leaders also offered prayers for peace.
Mrs. Moon arrived in the expo center being driven in a flower-adorned electric cart, to thunderous cheers from audience members who waved small Japanese and South Korean flags. Preceding her arrival was a wedding blessing ceremony for hundreds of couples.
Mrs. Moon has led the Unification movement since a few years before the 2012 death of the Rev. Moon, whose ministry grew to include affiliated commercial operations and media properties including The Washington Times.
Also participating in the event were Republican Reps. Ted Yoho of Florida and Andy Biggs of Arizona.