Unification News for September 1998
Pure Love Alliance Goes International
by Allen Shaw-NYC
With the success of last summer’s 26-city tour behind them, the Pure Love Alliance headed for Japan and Korea in August. It is now the largest international abstinence organization in the world.
Over 200 youth from around the world, together with more than 2,000 local participants, gathered August 4 in Tokyo’s Shibuya district to begin an 8-city tour of rallies, marches and demonstrations. Their aim was to encourage youth sexual purity and offer an alternative to Western pop culture’s typical portrayal of casual sex.
"We respect our sexual purity," said college sophomore Bo Jones, this time on his second Pure Love tour. "And we are fed up with a world that disrespects our purity, a world that brings sex down to the lowest level, that tells our children that sex is nothing more than fun and games."
The core participants in Japan were about 300 students, the youngest 14 years old. The tour began in Tokyo and moved through four more of Japan’s largest cities-Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima and Fukuoka-where rally participation ran as high as 2,500 people. In Korea the number rose to 400 students, traveling together to rallies in three cities: Pusan, Tae-Jon, and Seoul.
In Tokyo, thousands of supporters rallied to see a rousing performance by rock and rap acts, dance troupes, and singers, as well as appearances by political leaders and professors from local universities. Dancing in the sweltering heat, one rally-goer says he almost fainted twice before the humidity turned to rain and soaked the crowd.
One participant went because he expected a "tour of Japan and Korea." But these youth clearly were not vacationing. Over the next two weeks these young people would spend most of their days marching in either sweltering sun, rain showers, or a fog-like blanket of humidity. Mornings usually involved packing and toting luggage, often more than the buses were meant for, and nights meant unloading, toting again, and unpacking. Sleeping was in close quarters as a matter of routine, air-conditioned on occasion. (At one stop, they discovered after two days that the heat kicked in automatically after midnight.)
"It’s not like a holiday or something that you’d want to do just for fun to enjoy yourself," said Margaret Hill, one of the tour’s performers and a second-year participant. "It’s very taxing physically: You’re marching in the hot sun, chanting until you get hoarse. But then being able to see the participants, to see them become really strong on what they believe and working out a lot of things in their own lives. . . I think that to me makes it worth it."
That was the kind of experience rally organizers were hoping for. Joni Choi, assistant tour coordinator and "tour mother" explained just before the first rally, "My hope for the tour is not only that we can have a positive impact on the people in Japan, in the streets and in the media, but that we can change ourselves through doing this. We should really come to realize what purity is, in ourselves and as a group. Once you’re empowered with that, you’re no longer influenced by all the junk that people put forward."
Like many on the tour, Eri Hashimoto says friends often challenge her stance on sexual purity. "Some of them told me to change," she says. " They said, ‘Hey, what’s the problem with you?’ " Despite her determination to remain pure, she says it was difficult always to "be sure if what I believe in was really right." Joining the tour, though, she discovered that "people all around the world, from America, from Russia, from Europe, from Asia, they all believe in pure love, they all believe in pure love, Absolute Sex instead of free sex. And it gives me confidence and courage to keep on going and believing and doing what’s right."
Eri is not the only one with such a story. Others, like Japanese-American Naokimi Ushiroda and Yemi Pickard of Pleasantville, New York, also say they’re better off for having come. "It really helps," says Yemi, "to know that you’re not the only one." Naokimi says that with the experience of the tour behind him, "When I go back to college I can really speak out with a stronger conviction" for the value of purity.
To the public eye, however, the purpose of this tour was to be accomplished on a larger scale, in working with public educators and in utilizing the mass media.
In Japan, Pure Love Alliance leaders met with scores of educators and representatives from national, prefectural and local ministries of education. Some were surprised at the PLA’s approach to sex education. The Minister of Education in Chiba Prefecture, for example, offered apologies to American PLA president Robert Kittel for Japan’s being, as he said, behind the United States in sex education. He offered assurance that his schools would soon be instituting comprehensive (condom-based) safe-sex education.
"I told them," Mr. Kittel reported to the tour later, " ‘Please, do not introduce comprehensive sex education into your schools. You will destroy your children.’ "
As a result of such meetings, Mr. Kittel says that educational leaders in Japan have "responded positively" to the Alliance’s absolute sex curriculum, wanting to introduce it into the schools in place of comprehensive sex education. He says that Japanese educators were amazed that US citizens were coming to point out the failures of the American education system with concern that those mistakes not be repeated in Japan.
In Korea, where the Pure Love Alliance is already working with the public education system, rallies were covered on prime time national television and cable television news broadcasts, as well as in newspapers in every city the tour visited. The nation’s top media outlet, KBS, has plans to feature the PLA in an upcoming documentary of the worldwide youth movement for purity.
Why An Asian Pure Love Tour?
Some participants from last year’s tour, familiar with the popular Hollywood image of sex without consequences, wondered at first over the need for a Pure Love tour in Asia. They were surprised to discover the negative impact of Western culture in Japan and Korea.
There’s a growing trend in Japan’s major cities known as enjo kosai. Simply put, it’s freelance teen prostitution. With the help of commercial "telephone clubs," middle-aged men receive phone calls from junior-high and high-school girls who are willing to give one evening-often including sex -- in exchange for gifts or spending money. Their aim, they say, is high-priced high-fashion brand goods: Gucci, Prada, Fendi, and the like, Western designer labels whose handbags, for example, sell regularly for $500 and $800. Such finery is otherwise unaffordable to these 12- to 16- years old girls.
No one suggests that sexual immorality began with Western society. But the validating power of American culture is a powerful part of what the tour sought to address. There’s a common understanding among tour participants, Asian and Western alike, that American pop culture is being absorbed en masse by Koreans and Japanese. English text-with or without any meaning at all-appears regularly on clothing, notebooks, billboards, virtually anything intended for a young audience. In most urban areas, American fast food chains, from KFC to Subway to Mr. Donuts, seem always to be within walking distance. Western faces (or blond-haired, green-eyed Asian ones) are found advertising almost everything from shaving cream to long distance service.
Advertisers have discovered that the way to attract customers to a product is to associate it with America or the West. Combining that with American advertisers’ and entertainers’ reliance on casual sex as a marketing tool yields the ideal formula for rapid social decline in Asia. It is worth noting that in Japan, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, the availability of pornography, sexually transmitted diseases, and divorce are all on the rise, along with a corresponding frequency of homelessness, graffiti, gang violence, and drug use among youth. With all the goods America exports to the East, it is our endorsement of free sex that has made the deepest and most damaging impact.
"We owe it to Asia and Japan," says Joni Choi, "to come here and show them a different image, show them that not everyone in America is like that, and we are sorry that we’ve exported such bad things here."
What remains for the Pure Love Alliance in these two countries is to further the success of the contacts already made with educators and community leaders. In Korea PLA curriculum has already been taught in over 900 schools, and thousands of students have taken the Pure Love Pledge. Organizers now hope to reach out to religious institutions and social action groups to reach a wider audience.
In Japan, educational leaders requested detailed information from America regarding the dangers of pre-marital sex and the importance of marriage and family. They were especially interested in learning more about the benefits of stable, committed family life for the well-being of children and society in general; and conversely the consequences of broken dysfunctional families Plans are being made for a conference of concerned Japanese and American educators, to be held in the spring of next year.
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