愛的抗爭

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1996 / 10月

文‧王瑩陳妙鈴



親情之愛、土地之愛和國家民族之愛是一個人重要的情感依靠,九月初中台禪寺剃度風波中,許多人突然出家,使得家人面臨親情的割捨;不久,德國拜耳公司將在台中港設化學原料廠,當地民代和居民深怕生命和環境受到威脅;同時,日本右翼團體再赴釣魚台設置燈塔也再度引爆出兩岸三地的一片護土心切;當情感依賴的憑藉受到威脅,我們便聽到了一波波感情的抗議之聲。

九月一日,一百五怳C人在南投縣中台禪寺落髮剃度,拋開俗塵,遁入了空門,也遠離了親愛的家人。出家之事古今皆有,但是這次不但掀起軒然大波,上了社會版頭條,還引起佛教界本身的自律之議,甚至決定要成立類似天主教教廷梵蒂崗一般的佛教教廷,這到底是怎麼回事?現在許多孩子已被「押解」回家,我們不妨看看這個大概可說是台灣近年佛教勢力大興後,第一次發生大規模的「出家在家」之爭,帶給社會什麼樣的影響和反省。

這次突然剃度出家的青年學子,許多是在擔任中台禪寺所舉辦的小星辰夏令營的義工之後,就失去了蹤影,使得心急如焚的家長群集至位於埔里的中台禪寺要人。中台禪寺最初不願承認這些家長的子弟已在該寺剃度,但是抗議的家長愈來愈多,輿論的壓力也越來越大,寺方才陸續讓這些年輕的比丘尼和家人見面。

大部分的比丘尼面對家人的苦苦哀求,都意志堅定而口徑一致地說,自己出家是為了成全大孝和大愛,更可以為家人積德積福。但是看到正在念書或剛拿到學位的女兒,才去參加了一個禮拜的夏令營就完全變了個模樣,不但落盡三千煩惱絲,面對至親呼天搶地的悲愴,仍然法相莊嚴,口稱施主,怎不肝腸寸斷?有的父母強拉硬扯,有爸爸和女兒互相磕頭下跪,總之作家長的想盡各種方法,只要求子女先回家再說。莊嚴的佛殿前,上演的卻是一幕幕的天倫悲劇,而在媒體的聚光燈下,國人也為之動容,許多也有差不多年紀兒女的家庭,更有著感同身受的憤怒與不解。

在這次的剃度風波中,家長的矛頭直指中台禪寺,而素負盛名和威望的中台禪寺主持人惟覺老和尚也成為眾矢之的。有些憤怒的家長認為中台禪寺很可能在齋飯中下藥,替女兒洗腦了,甚至說中台禪寺是「魔神仔教」。部分佛教界人士認為,惟覺有廣為度人的法眷之私,違反一般一年剃度一名弟子的作法,才引起這場「濫剃」風波。在佛教界德高望重的慈濟功德會會長證嚴法師和佛光山星雲法師也認為,和家人充份溝通,是出家應有的準備工作,證嚴法師出家前帶髮修行數年,就是尊重疼惜母親的心情,一直等到母親能接受她的選擇,才正式剃度出家。

就法律觀點而言,已滿二抪釭漲谷~人可以對自己的行為負責,即使親如父母也無權干涉,但以情字而論,天底下有幾個父母能夠豁達地認為,女兒繁花似錦的人生才將開始便已勘破紅塵,古佛青燈度餘生?何況中國父母保護孩子慣了,年輕生命中多少抉擇都是父母定下的,哪肯相信孩子能作攸關一生的重大決定?於是我們聽到有法師喊道,「我不是你們的財產」,也有父母喊道:「我養你這麼大,你有什麼權利把頭髮剃掉。」這到底是我們這一代親子關係疏離,父母也不再被視為絕對權威所造成的現象,還是應了那句好了道長的真言,「癡心父母古來多,孝順兒孫誰見了?」

許多學者則認為,親子間的溝通與尊重不足,現代社會的人際關係冷淡,功利價值觀下成功的壓力過鉅,也造成這一代青少年的憤懣與惶惑,希望追求超越現實的理想生活與人際關係,佛教所提供的「四大皆空」、「大愛」、「涅盤」剛好符合這樣的理想,自然有很大的吸引力。但彰化師範大學輔導系教授黃德祥特別為文指出青少年對人生充滿憧憬,對現實不滿和長期在父母過份保護下普遍流於天真,缺乏判事能力,也是這次中台集體出家事件的潛在原因。

黃德祥還進一步提醒國人,相較於中台事件,近年來美國大衛教、日本真理教等狂熱宗派,他們吸引教友的方式通常採「密集教學、心理咨商、隔絕的環境、教主的崇拜」等類似洗腦的過程,使人認同其教義及儀式,因此參加者大都覺得是自己心甘情願的獻身,外人卻覺得不可思議,最後造成極大的悲劇,社會也付出大量成本。以此借鏡,他建議缺乏社會經驗、心智尚未成熟的學生,不宜參加宗教夏令營或靈修、閉關等長期密閉式的活動,而政府對於一切異於常理的宗教活動也應有所規範,否則更大的天倫、社會悲劇也不是沒有可能發生的。

綜觀中台事件,不但引起全民的矚目,教育、社會、宗教、心理學者的探討,更造成宗教界本身的自省之聲,或者,這正是一個檢討台灣宗教熱的好時機,大夥兒不妨繼續關注這個議題。

拜耳的戰爭

另一起在台灣中部引起民眾抗議的,是德國拜耳公司欲斥巨資,在台中港區設置工業化學原料二異氰酸甲苯酯(TDI)及上下游原料的廠區。由於TDI及其相關上下游原料是有毒物質,尤其是生產TDI過程中所需的光氣更含劇毒,所以引起地方民代與民眾一片反對設廠的聲浪。

拜耳其實不是第一個引進TDI的企業,台塑早在六輕所在地設置了儲藏量三噸的TDI廠,而且在台中港也早已有許多重工業進駐,但是在台灣亟需外資回籠之際,這次拜耳設廠卻造成前所未有的反對聲浪,歸究其原因,固然是由於民代介入和媒體披露,但是看不見完整而具公信力的環境評估報告,以及政府和廠商與地方民眾事前溝通有欠周詳,益發引起當地民眾的疑慮不安。

首先,由台灣省環保處中區環保中心所主導的環境影響評估報告受到質疑。拜耳的設廠計劃估計投資近五百億,除了為台中港帶來繁榮,對政府所推動的亞太營運中心的六大目標之一──亞太製造中心也有很大的助益。再加上TDI是科技發展過程中重要的原料,而國內又很缺乏此一原料,所以民眾懷疑行政院經建會為了經濟而犧牲環保,對環評委員的資格和環評的過程都提出抨擊。

其次是拜耳在台中港的預定廠址,租期長達一百二怳郎~,有人認為這是重演清末的割地喪權,而且租期一到,拜耳一走了之,若是留下污染,將很難追究責任。另外,租金方面政府也多有讓步,比較起來,國內其他廠商在設廠時,就沒有這麼多的好處。諸如此類被疑為媚外的行為,和急於延攬拜耳進駐台中港的態度,更引起了民意極大的反彈。

根據此案負責人台灣拜耳公司副總經理陳嘉鐘指出,其實拜耳在美國、德國、日本和西班牙都設有廠房,其中也多有高科技的重工業廠房設在人口稠密的住宅區,從過去的經驗看來,從未發生過事故。而且拜耳將在台中港區設置的TDI廠,將是拜耳在全世界安全措施最完善的一個廠。至於政府所提供的各種優惠,陳嘉鐘指出,拜耳設廠的案子是通案不是專案,也就是目前政府所提供的好處其實適用於所有提出相同申請的廠商。

但是這些解釋仍無法抑止民眾反拜耳的情緒,細研其因,拜耳事先沒有做好宣導和溝通的工作,事後受到抗爭才來做,已經錯失先機,而該投資案又時運不濟,剛好碰上中油的一連串的漏油漏氣事件,民眾對政府的承諾,以及化學工業的信心不免降到了最低點。

九月中旬,省議會通過審查同意拜耳投資案的三項前提,分別是「完成環境影響評估法定程序、公平合理租用省有土地、消除居民疑慮並獲港區多數居民同意」。同時,針對拜耳設廠案所進行的第二階段環境評估工作也已經展開,預估將耗時六個月以上,至於六個月之後,拜耳是否能在台中港區設廠,目前仍是未知數。

以台灣的海島經濟型態而言,吸收外資、發展對外市場是生存所必需的,但也正因本身屬於地窄人稠島國,生活環境的破壞更是我們無法承擔的惡,如何兼顧二者,讓經濟與環保政策相為依存,端靠決策者的智慧與執法的魄力;眼前刻不容緩的則是儘速建立公正的環境評估制度、具公信力的仲裁團體,以及長期監督具爭議性的投資廠商的環保安全措施,協助廠商與居民進行常態溝通與對話,那麼,拜耳事件在我國經濟發展史上寫下的,就不會是一頁遺憾,而是一個美好的先例。

釣魚台的民族抗爭

在台中港區居民反拜耳設廠的同時,日本右翼團體「日本青年社」又悄悄地在釣魚台列嶼建起燈塔,以宣示日本在釣魚台列嶼的主權。

早在七月中旬「日本青年社」就已經登上釣魚台上設置燈塔,當時日本政府緊接著宣布具有排他性的二百海浬經濟海域,其中包括釣魚台列嶼。面對日本這種大剌剌的巧取豪奪,海峽兩岸政府同時發出抗議,而日本方面也在壓力之下拆除了燈塔,暫時平息了領土之議。不料九月中旬,不死心的「日本青年社」又再度登上了釣魚台,這回日本海上保安廳也打著保護經濟海域的大旗,派出艦艇和飛機阻擾我方漁船和記者接近,而日本政府更對兩岸三地此起彼落的官方與民間的抗議裝聾作啞,連日本媒體也低調處理,不但不把它當一回事,還呼籲香港媒體不要「小題大作」;然而,這個凝集了太多中國人百年來國仇家恨記憶的小島,會成為東亞和平的引爆點嗎?身在最有資格對它宣示主權的中華民國台灣,我們究竟該如何看待這場領土與尊嚴之爭?

中日的釣魚台之爭由來已久,雙方對於這座具戰略地位、海域蘊藏豐富油礦的太平洋西岸中的小島都各自以歷史淵源認為屬於本身的自然領土,但在主權上,日本卻是經由中日甲午之戰、清廷戰敗後割讓台澎而佔據屬於宜蘭漁民捕漁範圍的釣魚台,二次世界大戰日本投降後,釣魚台主權並未隨台澎歸還中華民國,仍由美國託管,直到民國四怳@年中日簽下和平條約廢除馬關條約時,才正式載明釣魚台列嶼為中華民國的領土。

一九七一年,美軍突然將行政權交予日本,掀起第一波在極短期間就在美國、香港、台灣大學校園中積極串聯起來的愛國保釣運動,當時,尚未與美、日斷交的我國也曾照會美國,釣魚台屬於中華民國領土,日本在全球華人抗議聲中,也放棄了對釣魚台的主權宣示,雖然二抩l年來,雖然小規模釣魚台的風波不斷地有,但兩岸政府和日本政府之間仍然存在著釣魚台主權仍未抵定的默契。

事隔將近四分之一世紀,這次因日本右派團體燈塔事件,釣魚台風波再起,台海局勢已與當年截然不同,不但我國政府已不再能與日本進行外交對等談判,與中共之間的關係也有著極大的變化,而國內政治生態更是不能同日而語,所以當我們從媒體報導中得知,中共外長錢其琛和日本外相池田行彥在紐約的釣魚台對談根本就是各說各話,而日本在之前正式宣稱擁有釣魚台之主權時,也僅能由國內的民間保釣人士與香港、美國保釣領袖們一同串聯出海同赴釣魚台,準備炸掉「日本青年社」的燈塔。事實上,我們也有心理準備,在東北季風狂吼、日本自衛隊武力捍衛的釣魚台海域中,保釣人士幾乎沒有可能登陸,而兩岸政府在各有各的立場和難處下,釣魚台的主權之爭恐怕終成國際現實政治下的一樁懸案,雖然連日本國際法教授奧原敏雄也承認,如果日本要合法取得釣魚台的主權,除非否認曾發生過甲午戰爭才行,因為日本堅持對釣魚台的主權是自古擁有,那麼馬關條約又為何多此一舉地將釣魚台列嶼隨著台澎割讓給日本呢?

釣魚台的面積和它所引起的風暴一直無法成正比,兩岸三地以至於海外千千萬萬的華人凝聚在這蕞爾小島上的共識和感情卻是事件中最令人感動的,然而這股浩然正氣是否終將不惜求取一戰,犧牲亞洲和平?而日本政府是否甘犯眾怒,一味求取釣魚台海域的經濟利益?我們在激情中期待主事者的智慧,更祈禱保釣人士和媒體同業的平安歸來。

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生別離也是佛理中提到的人間至苦之一,圖中心碎的母親令人鼻酸,相信閉著眼睛、雙手合怐漱k兒也不好受。(陸大湧攝)

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近期文章

EN

Protests Out of Love

by Anna Wang and Marlene Chen /tr. by Robert Taylor and Phil Newell


Love of family, love of hometown, and love of nation are three great emotional pillars for an individual. The wave of young people who left home to join Chungtai Temple forced many to face the pain of a break in familial love. At Taichung Harbor, the plans by Germany's Bayer company to build a chemical plant have struck fear into local residents, who are worried for their lives and environment. And the construction of a lighthouse on the Diaoyutai Islands by Japanese nationalists has sparked sentiments in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China to protect Chinese territory. In September, we saw that, when these emotional pillars are attacked, we will soon hear waves of protest.

And then there were nuns

On September 1, 157 people underwent head-shaving at the Chungtai Temple, marking their decision to pursue monastic life far from their families. People have been tonsured since ancient times, but this particular event caused great controversy, even triggering debate over self-regulation within the Buddhist community (going so far as proposals to create a Buddhist papacy similar to the Vatican). What's going on here?

Many of the young people (mainly college and high school students) who decided to commit to monastic life had disappeared without a word after having been participants in the "Little Star Summer Camp" sponsored by Chungtai Temple in Nantou County. Frightened parents went to the temple in Puli to demand their children back. Chungtai Temple at first was unwilling to admit that these youngsters had already gone through the tonsuring ceremony. But as the number of protesting parents grew, and public scrutiny intensified, the temple allowed these little Bhikkus to meet their families.

Faced with their parents' outpourings of emotion, most of the children held their ground and uniformly said that they committed to monastic life to complete their duties of greater filial piety and love, to win even greater blessings for their families. When parents saw their offspring had completely changed after staying at the camp-not only shedding their hair, but standing impassive before their parents' cries and addressing their parents with terms monks and nuns use for all secular benefactors-how could the parents not be heartbroken?

In this wave of tonsuring, parents focused their anger on Chungtai Temple, and especially on the temple's master, the widely respected old monk Wei Chueh. Some parents suspected the temple had drugged their children's food or brainwashed the kids; a couple even accused the temple of black magic. Some people in the Buddhist community suggested that Wei Chueh's excess of ambition to help many people violated the general custom of taking only one new novice per year, thus setting off the controversy over "excessive tonsuring." Two of the leading figures in the local Buddhist community, Master Cheng Yen (of the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation) and Master Hsing Yun (of Fokuangshan Temple) both said that preparatory work for entering monastic life should include complete communication with family. Cheng Yen herself did not shave her head while preparing to become a nun, out of deference to her beloved mother's wishes; she formally became a nun after her mother finally accepted her choice.

From a legal point of view, anyone over 20 years old has full responsibility for their behavior, and even parents have no right to interfere. But from a sentimental point of view, how many parents can readily accept that their children-just reaching the flowering of their young lives-have decided to spend the rest of their days ignoring the seductions of this world? What's more, Chinese parents are used to protecting their children, and make countless choices for them. How can they trust their child to make such an important decision that will affect their whole life? Thus we hear the novices saying: "I am not your property," while parents declare: "I've raised you all this time, what right have you got to go and join a monastery?"

Many scholars suggest that there is inadequate communication and respect between parents and children, that interpersonal relations are shallow in modern society, and that the pressure to succeed is enormous in a society driven by values of fame and fortune. These have created a sense of disaffection and anxiety in many young people, who in turn seek a life characterized by transcending material gain and by ideal personal relationships. The ideals of "all is vanity," "great love," and "nirvana" which are part of Buddhism precisely meet these children's hopes, so naturally it is powerfully attractive. But, as Changhua Normal College department of guidance professor Huang Te-hsiang writes, young people typically are filled with aspirations toward life, and may-given dissatisfaction with society and a long period of being overprotected by parents-be naive and lack judgment. This was an underlying reason for the mass tonsuring at Chungtai Temple.

Huang Te-hsiang further reminds society to compare the Chungtai Temple incident with such radical cults as the recent cases of the Branch Dravidians in the US and the Aum Shinri Kyo group in Japan. To attract followers, such groups employ methods of "intensive instruction, therapy and guidance, an isolated environment, and worship of the religious leader," which are akin to brainwashing techniques. These cause people to identify with the doctrine and ceremonies of the religion, so that believers fully believe themselves to be acting of their own free will. Yet outsiders find their behavior inexplicable. The end result is tragedy, with society paying enormous costs.

Against this background, Huang advises that it is inappropriate for students, lacking experience in society and with immature minds, to be allowed to participate in long-termed, closed activities like the summer camp. Moreover, he suggests, the government should regulate all religious activities that do not follow general practice or common sense. Otherwise, it is not impossible that similar crises of family and social ethics will again occur.

Looking overall at the Chungtai Temple incident, it not only attracted attention throughout our society as well as inspired explorations and discussions by scholars of education, sociology, religion, and psychology, it also spurred calls for reflection within the Buddhist community itself. Perhaps this is a good time to reflect upon Taiwan's religious beliefs, and there will no harm done by everyone continuing to keep a close eye on this subject.

Chemical reaction in Taichung

Another problem in Central Taiwan that had people protesting was the plan by the German firm Bayer to make a huge investment in Taichung Harbor. The project aims to build an industrial complex making the industrial chemical TDI as well as up- and down-stream products. Because TDI and related products include toxins-and, in particular, the phosgene needed in the TDI production process is highly toxic-local representatives and people are protesting against the plan.

In fact, Bayer is not the first group to bring TDI to Taiwan. Formosa Plastics built a TDI plant with a storage capacity of three tons at the site of the Sixth Naphtha Cracker. Also, there have long been heavy industries set up at Taichung Harbor. Despite all this, even now as Taiwan is urgently seeking foreign investment, the Bayer plan has generated unprecedented opposition. Why? Although some may blame intervention by politicians and exposure by the media, the bottom line is that people have doubts about the environmental impact, and these doubts have not been alleviated by the government or corporation.

First, questions have been raised about the initial environmental impact report, which was made by the Central District Environmental Protection Center of the Taiwan Provincial Government's Department of Environmental Protection. It was passed very rapidly, and many doubted it was thorough. In fact, it was the early release of the initial report that set off the protests to begin with.

The speed of the initial report has led some to suspect that the Ministry of Economic Affairs is sacrificing environmental protection to economic considerations.The Bayer plan promises an investment of NT$50 billion (about US$1.7 billion), which would not only create prosperity for the harbor, it would be a big step in moving toward one of the government's six aspects of making Taiwan a "Regional Operations Center"-creating a regional manufacturing center. On top of this, TDI is an important raw material in high-tech R&D, and is in short supply domestically.

Second, some have criticized the length of the lease given to Bayer-125 years-as being a replay of the humiliating "foreign concessions" of the Qing dynasty. If pollution remains after the lease expires, it will be difficult to insure that those responsible can be traced. Moreover, the government has made many concessions in terms of the lease, with local entrepreneurs not receiving nearly as good terms. This behavior, seen as "sucking up to the foreigners," and the over-eagerness displayed to draw Bayer to Taichung Harbor, have been even more important in raising citizen's ire.

According to Chen Chia-chung of Bayer Taiwan, who is in charge of the project, Bayer already has plants in the US, Germany, Japan, and Spain, many of which are high-tech heavy-industry factories in densely populated areas. Yet there have never been any incidents. Further, the TDI plant Bayer wants to set up in Taichung Harbor will have the most comprehensive safety measures of any Bayer factory in the world. As for the various incentives offered by the government, Chen says that Bayer's investment has been handled under normal procedures, not as a special case, and the advantages offered by the government are in fact applicable to all similar investment proposals.

But such explanations have not appeased the citizens' anti-Bayer feelings. Bayer did not handle information dissemination or communication well, and only began making an effort when running into protests after the project began. By then they had lost the initiative. Moreover, the project had bad luck in terms of timing, coming just as the state-run China Petroleum Corporation had a series of accidents including oil leaks and gas leaks. Public trust in the government and confidence in the chemical industry plummeted.

In mid-September, nearly half of all provincial assembly representatives voted for three preconditions for approving the Bayer project. These are completing the legally required environmental impact assessment procedures, insuring that provincial land is being leased fairly and reasonably, and eliminating citizens' concerns while gaining support from a majority of Taichung Harbor residents. At the same time, the second stage of the environmental impact assessment process for the Bayer project has begun. It is estimated this process will take more than six months; it's still uncertain whether Bayer will be able to build its plant six months from now.

Given Taiwan's island economy, attracting foreign investment and developing foreign markets are essential to survival. But precisely because Taiwan is so small, it makes destruction of the environmental that much harder to bear.

For the immediate future, the most urgent task is to create an unbiased environmental impact assessment body. The government must undertake long-term monitoring of the environmental effects of controversial investment projects, and assist businesses and residents in holding regular dialogues. If this were to happen, the Bayer case would not be a regrettable page in Taiwan's investment history, but an excellent precedent.

Patriotic protests over Diaoyutai

While residents of the Taichung Harbor district were protesting against Bayer's factory plans, the right-wing "Japanese Youth Federation" surreptitiously rebuilt its lighthouse on Diaoyutai Island, as a declaration of Japan's sovereignty over the Diaoyutai archipelago.

Back in July, the JYF had already landed on Diaoyutai and built a lighthouse there, after which the Japanese government declared a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone including Diaoyutai. This action by the Japanese attracted protests from the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Under pressure, the Japanese demolished the lighthouse, and the dispute subsided for a while. But in mid-September the JYF returned to Diaoyutai, and this time Japan's coastguard, on the grounds of protecting Japan's economic zone, prevented our fishing boats and reporters approaching, while the Japanese government turned a deaf ear to official and unofficial protests from Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China. Even the Japanese media took a low-key approach to the affair, not only treating it as a non-event, but also calling on the Hong Kong media not to make a mountain out of a molehill. Will this little group of islands, which has crystallized a century of bitter memories for so many Chinese, really become a flashpoint which shatters peace in East Asia? And how should we in the Republic of China on Taiwan, which has the most legitimate claim to the islands, regard this dispute?

The dispute between China and Japan over the Diaoyutai Islands (called the Senkaku Islands by the Japanese) goes back a long way. Both cite history to claim these little islands at the Western edge of the Pacific Ocean, with their strategic position and rich undersea oil deposits. In terms of actual sovereignty, however, Diaoyutai, was ceded to Japan along with Taiwan and the Penghu Islands by the Qing court after China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894. But after WWII, sovereignty over Diaoyutai was not returned to the ROC along with Taiwan and the Penghus. Instead, the islands remained under American control. It was not until 1952, when China and Japan signed a peace treaty which revoked the terms of the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, that the Diaoyutai islands were formally stated to be part of the territory of the Republic of China.

In 1971, the US military suddenly turned administration of the islands over to Japan. This instantly aroused the first patriotic movement to protect Diaoyutai; Chinese students on campuses in the USA, Hong Kong and Taiwan joined together to protest. The ROC, which at that time still had diplomatic relations with the USA and Japan, presented a note to the US government reaffirming that Diaoyutai was part of ROC territory. Faced with a storm of protest from Chinese around the world, Japan refrained from declaring sovereignty over the islands. Since then, despite some minor incidents, there has been a tacit agreement between Taipei, Beijing and Tokyo that the question of sovereignty over Diaoyutai has not been finally settled.

Now, the construction of the lighthouse by the JYF has whipped up another storm over Diaoyutai. But today the balance of forces around the Taiwan Strait is very different. Not only is the ROC government unable to engage in diplomatic negotiations with Japan; its relationship with the communist mainland has also changed enormously, as has its domestic political environment. Thus, when it became known that when the mainland and Japanese foreign ministers met in New York to discuss the issue, they simply talked past each other, and that before the meeting Japan had made a formal declaration of its sovereignty over Diaoyutai, the ROC could only leave it to members of the unofficial Diaoyutai defense movement, and sister movements in Hong Kong and the USA, to set off for Diaoyutai with the purpose of smashing down the JYF lighthouse. Yet, what with the howling northeasterlies and the well-armed vessels of the Japanese patrolling around Diaoyutai, the chances of the protesters actually making a landing were practically nil.

Given the positions of the governments in Taipei and Beijing, the dispute seems set to end in an indefinite standoff in the interests of international Realpolitik, although even Japanese professor of international law Okuhara Toshio acknowledges that for Japan to acquire legal territorial sovereignty over Diaoyutai, it would have to deny that the Sino-Japanese war of 1894 ever took place. For if, as the Japanese insist, Diaoyutai has been theirs since ancient times, why should they have gone to the trouble of having the islands ceded to Japan in along with Taiwan and Penghu in the Treaty of Shimonoseki?

The storms which have blown up over the Diaoyutai Islands have always been out of all proportion to their size, and the most moving aspect of the whole affair is the way these tiny islets have become a focus for the common sentiments of Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China and around the world. However, will their righteous indignation finally make them willing to go to war and sacrifice peace in Asia? And is the Japanese government prepared to insist on gaining the economic use of the seas around Diaoyutai in the face of universal anger? We hope for wisdom from those in positions of power, and also pray for the safe return of the protesters and of our media colleagues.

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Parting from loved ones is one of the trials of life Buddhism takes note of. The mother in the picture looks heart-broken, and one can be sure that her daughter-eyes closed and hands folded-isn't feeling very happy either. (photo by Lu Ta-yung)

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