Most Worshipful Sirs, Right Worshipful Sirs, Worshipful Sirs, and all Brethren;
Supported by many brothers, I have been duly installed as the 61st Grand Master of Grand Lodge of Japan this year's spring.
Currently our Grand Lodge has a lot of issues that should be solved. Especially among these problems, the most important thing I think is to restore Fraternity to our organization.
Looking back over the past history, masonic organization has been always conservative. The group has been preserving simple but fundamental truth without being swayed by the waves of time. We have been pursuing the unwavering belief that can endure ordeals. With this consistent conservatism also can be expressed stubborn, our masonic group has survived for a long time, as more than 300 years, being able to maintain traditions from a long time ago. Perhaps this is what forms the backbone of our pride.
Despite how much we attempt to promote ourselves to mass media due to impatient feeling to increase membership, we will still end up with unintended and futile, sometimes even harmful, result. It is just that our organization to be exposed to eyes full of curiosity. It may have a risk to damage our tradition and honor itself. To prevent these things to happen, we decided to give permission to appear ourselves on the media only when the Grand Lodge of Japan or Grand Master admits. Our group is never flamboyant, instead we aim to improve moral character. I am sure the most outstanding appeal to people outside the masonic organization is each one of us becoming a brilliant human advertisement by doing the steady self-practice with brothers who share the same ambition. We should aim to roll out mason of high quality to the world as much as possible, instead of giving weight only to increase the membership. That is how we contribute to outside society.
Therefore, I think it important to give young brothers an opportunity and efficient education system more than ever.
I also think it necessary to establish a system that can proceed with collaboration and communication among many lodges smoothly. With this purpose, I would like to propose the establishment of a Lodge Master Conference.
As I mentioned at the beginning, even though we are starting from the negative heritage, I would like more and more brethren to agree with me and produce a fruitful result.
In order to take effectual measure against these issues, sometimes we need a drastic treatment. To make a livable world for all brothers, I need everyone’s cooperation and understanding. Is excessive promotion to mass media an effectual way to increase membership? Or, is steady effort to improve the quality of our moral character a good way? We need to consider it carefully. If I am to choose in this case, I prefer the latter. I believe the quality of each member is more important than the quantity. We constantly demand good men.
Within the seven virtues taught in Freemasonry, there is some kind of “justice” in it. Many trials and punishments have been performed to restore justice. Originally, these punishments should be executed only to protect Fraternity among us.
As a matter of course, these punishments must not be abused to exclude any adversaries. I think recent atmosphere punishing severely all the issues, including unessential ones, is unfavorable. It will frighten us and intensify the chain of hostility and hatred. We need to recognize we have quite a different priority apparent from simple justice carried out in ordinary society.
Quite ironically, the attitude pursuing justice to correct all the matters thoroughly has collapsed the spirit of Fraternity which is the most important virtue upon Freemasonry. This is causing a risk against the Fraternity. Let us focus on how we can restore Fraternity.
In the first place, we were brothers with good relationship. As previously mentioned, any punishments must be executed only to protect Fraternity among us. Moreover, even if such punishment is performed, if the brother who committed crime shows a sincere attitude of repentance and a will of contrition, then we should think of toleration full of mercy.
If it was not for tolerance, we cannot eliminate hostility and hatred from our world. We cannot even bring about true peace and harmony. I am convinced brotherhood and tolerance will only be the key to restore order and beauty to our world.
To restore Fraternity which forms the bedrock of our world is the thing I should recognize as the most important task. I will try my best to do it. As I said before, sometimes we need a drastic treatment in order to take effectual measures against these issues. To make the world more livable for all brothers, I would like everyone to spare your cooperation and understanding.
Atsushi Takahashi, Grand master 2018
Tokyo Masonic Center
4-1-3 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011