The 87-year-old president of Agon Shu, a million-member Japanese cultural organization that prays for world peace, came to Yad Sarah headquarters in Jerusalem on Monday to donate 1,000 wheelchairs to the voluntary organization.
It was the first donation to Israel by the Japanese organization, which has some seven million supporters and on Wednesday will hold a "fire ceremony" for peace at Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood overlooking the Old City with some 400 followers. Agon Shu has previously held a peace ceremony at Auschwitz.
Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, the founder and president of Yad Sarah, was on hand to welcome Seiryu Kiriyama, the organization's leader, who communicated with him through an interpreter. Kiriyama was treated with great deference by the Agon Shu members who accompanied him.
"You are a bridge between cultures," the mayor said.
Lupolianski, whose voluntary organization is in need of the US-made wheelchairs because many disabled and elderly go to relatives' homes from geriatric hospitals during the High Holy Days, said the Jews were an ancient but small nation, "so we need many friends like you."
Kiriyama said he was moved by the warm reception and hoped Yad Sarah would make maximal use of his "modest gift."
Wearing a bright orange-yellow robe and leaning on an ornate cane, Kiriyama watched intently as a film on Yad Sarah's myriad activities was shown. Many gifts were exchanged.
Agon Shu has no connection with the Makoya, the pro-Zionist Japanese organization that has for decades had a presence in Israel.
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