One man's march for nuclear disarmament

By , Staff correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

''If I run out of money, I will walk. If I run out of food, I'll fast.''

Said simply, quietly, this remark reflects the deep faith with which Jinyu Morishita lives. Over the past five years he has walked several thousand miles to promote peace -- through Europe, North Africa (where border conflicts kept him from walking across the Sahara), parts of Asia, including the dangerous Khyber Pass in Afghanistan last year, and much of his native Japan.

Now he plans to walk from New Orleans to New York as part of a coordinated effort among various religious and lay organizations to help rally proponents of nuclear disarmament. He and other marchers coming from California hope to be joined by thousands of Americans along the way, reaching New York in time for a demonstration coinciding with the United Nations session on nuclear disarmament in June.

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Mr. Morishita is a member of the Nipponzan Myohoji order of Buddhist monks, which, he says, numbers about 300 monks and dates back some 700 years. The order now devotes its activities toward world peace, helping build peace pagodas in various countries, and walking to draw attention to the need for disarmament.

Morishita was born in Japan the year before the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ending World War II in the Pacific. He became a monk at 12, and held his first demonstration for peace that year -- a three-day fast. Since then he has fasted three days a month and begins each day with the order's prayer for peace. He now spends one 14-hour day a week praying for world peace.

In 1976 he joined the final stages of a trans-US peace march by 25 monks from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. The next year he crossed much of Europe as part of a Helsinki to Belgrade peace march. In 1979 he trekked across most of England on another peace protest, and in 1980 hiked an estimated 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) in Japan on foot.

Through his walks he hopes to ''raise public opinion'' against nuclear arms, he says. The aim is to convince the US, Soviet, and other governments to ''stop the nuclear race.'' How? ''Just stop -- production, stockpiling.'' He does not know in detail how this might be accomplished, saying: 'We are not specialist people; we are just religious people.''

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