Re-Awakening to Our Inter-connected World

1st International Conference on
Buddhism, Suicide Prevention, and Psycho-Spiritual Counseling

Hosted by the International Buddhist Exchange Center (IBEC) @ Kodosan
the Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists (JNEB)

Yokohama, Japan November 6-8, 2017
The Jodo Shin Hongan-ji Denomination Research Institute
Ryukoku University Research Center for Buddhist Cultures in Asia (BARC)

Kyoto, Japan November 9-10, 2017 

Click here for the Detailed Program!

Background: As much as concerns about health and well-being persist in the lesser developed parts of the globe, we have been witnessing in the last few decades declining levels of well-being in the so-called highly developed countries of the world. Japan is a principle example of this when its suicide rate skyrocketed in the late 1990s as a still ongoing economic recession started to take root in society. Suicide and a wide variety of forms of mental illness are not only plaguing Japan today (#17, 18.5/100,000), but have taken hold in South Korea (#2, 28.9) and other East Asian societies, where the drive for success coupled with self-sacrifice is so strong. The pressures of modern industrial society are also trickling into the so called lesser developed countries of Asia that have become rife with suicide, such as Sri Lanka (#3, 28.8), Nepal (#7, 24.9) and India (#11, 21.1).

Japan has been known for its unique culture of condoning or accepting suicide, such as the noble samurai taking his life to accept blame for failed duties. Zen Buddhism has at times appeared to be part of this culture, offering the warrior or the stoic the power of mind to accept death. While Buddhism has a unique tradition of contemplating and engaging with death directly and fearlessly, it’s foundational ethic is one of non-violence and non-harming, seeking to avoid death. With this complex and unique culture, a movement of Japanese Buddhist priests from a wide variety of traditions has emerged in the last decade to proactively engage in the chronic suicide problem in Japan. Their practices range from emergency telephone and internet counseling, group counseling, healing ritual, and community building. –> see further reading below

Their work is so compelling and relevant that newly reformed International Buddhist Exchange Center (IBEC) at the Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship in Yokohama and the Japan Network of Engaged Buddhists (JNEB) in partnership with the Jodo Shin Hongan-ji Denomination Research Institute and the Ryukoku University Research Center for Buddhist Cultures in Asia (BARC) in Kyoto are taking the next step in their ongoing support of this movement by holding an international conference in November 2017 to bring together Buddhists concerned on this issue for sharing experiences and learning practices.


  • To bring together Japanese Buddhists with significant experience in the field of suicide prevention to share perspectives and skills with international Buddhists, who either have similar such expertise or who are seeking to develop such expertise
  • To share experiences on the nature of suicide in the various regions of the participants
  • To develop deeper perspectives and common models on the structural and cultural causes of suicide, especially from a Buddhist perspective
  • To share skills in counseling of the suicidal and their families and loves ones and bereavement care for families and loves ones who have lost persons to suicide, especially from a Buddhist perspective
  • To share activities and models for addressing the deeper structural and cultural causes of suicide and for community building, especially from a Buddhist base

Participants: (50 maximum)

  • 25 international participants: Buddhist monks, nuns, and lay practitioners involved in counseling & a few experts from civil society
  • 25 Japanese participants: Buddhist priests and lay practitioners already active in suicide prevention work, a few experts from civil society, & various media

Schedule of Events: 2.5 days Yokohama Area & 2 days Kyoto Area

Yokohama 2.5 days: Day 1 presentations by Japanese; Day 2 presentations by foreign participants; Day 3 consolidation and move to Kyoto

Kyoto 2 days: Group work and public symposium

International Contact:

Jonathan Watts, Director

International Buddhist Exchange Center (IBEC)

@ the Kodo Kyodan Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship


Cooperating Groups (Yokohama/Tokyo Area):

Cooperating Groups (Kyoto/Osaka):

Background Reading & Documentation:

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