■ Lost without the Anglican Church?!


Bishop Hiromichi Kato

Tohoku Diocese, NSKK

The Tohoko Diocese of Japan and the Diocese of Daejeon in Korea have been linked ever since I had a brief chat with a Korean priest about his work of “sharing” with the local community in Daejeon Diocese. That was at a celebration of 20 years of cooperation between the two Churches held in Fukuoka back in 2004. I also chatted to the Bishop of Daejeon at that meeting, and several months later we had begun to talk about exchange between our Dioceses.
Later, when I had attended an event held in Daejeon Diocese, the Bishop and we guests from overseas were invited to dinner by the head of the local government. Almost certainly, this would never happen in Japan. However, not only was I surprised by the invitation, but I will never forget what the government official said in his speech before the meal began.
“Our local area would be lost without the Anglican Church!”
Now this is something I can’t imagine a local government official ever saying in Japan.
During that visit I had seen several Anglican outreach projects in that area. These varied widely, from a large old people’s home, to a small shelter for victims of domestic violence, to a facility for young people. There were so many that I was left with the impression that most of the churches were in some way involved in “sharing” with their surrounding communities.
“Our local area would be lost without the Anglican Church!” I still ponder those words. The Tohoku Diocese covers six local regions. There are 22 churches, and amongst them, they run 16 kindergartens and a nursery. One of these is 100 years old, and it is clear from this that the Anglican church took the lead in providing education for very young children from quite an early date, in fact, before local government took on that role. Nowadays, however, many of these institutions are struggling with the conditions of today – in particular the problem of the falling birth rate. It’s even becoming questionable whether the kindergartens can continue to work alongside the churches as part of their outreach.
   At the end of 2008 the law governing public bodies was revised with a new definition that “public service” should benefit the “general public”. There is no doubt that the government had in mind those “public” organisations with too many private privileges. However, religious bodies also began to come under scrutiny with the question asked as to whether they are really for the benefit of the “general public”. It appears that the answer to this will turn out to be no.
  I sadly feel that in Japan religions are not recognised as necessary for the running of a healthy society. It’s not that I think all religious bodies should be officially recognised by local government. However, I do feel that the relationship between churches as communities of faith, and as bodies working for the local community will become increasingly important and increasingly difficult.
   From November of last year, a priest from the Diocese of Daejeon has joined us to work in Tohoku. He has been placed in St. Peter’s outreach chapel in Sendai, the only church in the Diocese that has a social facility that is neither a kindergarten nor a nursery. He will be involved in the Hikari Toy Library, a facility for autistic children and their parents. I am very much looking forward to seeing how he gets on.
  Kapatiran is an important model for the kind of thing that I have been writing about, having a close relationship between the Church and the outside community. Although I write this from far-away Tohoku, it is my pleasure to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and to give thanks for, and pray for God’s blessing on your work.

■ I am Korean and a woman.*

Priest   Dominica  Pac Mi Hyon

                                         Diocese of Tokyo, Seiai church, collaborative priest

  How do you do?  I was appointed to a committee member from this September. I am not good enough to be a committee member but I will try my best.  The reason why I was appointed to a committee member even though I was not good enough is probably because I am a foreigner, living in Japan and a woman.  Yes, I am a foreigner and a woman, like “a woman of Canaan” (Matthew 15, 21~28).  Also, like a daughter of a woman of Canaan, I am at times vexed with the fact that I have to face when I live in Japan as a foreigner. The examples are the facts that we are forced to “be taken our fingerprints and a photo of our face at the immigration examination”.
      Owing to the development of transportation, the speed that we visit from one country to another country, from one continent to another continent is much faster than before.  Also contacts of one culture with another culture become much more often than before.  As you know from an example of recent Influenza A(H1N1), pains and sufferings which occurred the other side of the earth yesterday occur in our country today.  Seeing from this viewpoint, we deeply feel that the earth is one community. Living in such times, the fact that we are forced to “be taken our fingerprints and a photo of our face at the immigration examination” is vexing and we lose words.  I am sure that this is the discrimination and human-rights abuse.  Since the country discriminates foreigners and treat foreigners like criminals, living in Japan as a foreigner is at times vexing. We are suffered in daily life.
      I came to live in Tokyo from this April. While I prepared for the new life, I came to face with many things. One of them happened when I made a bankbook for school meals of my son.  A bank clerk, eyeing me at times,  wrote the number of the note that I brought and phoned to some place.  After that, the clerk phoned to another place.  I felt a sign that she inspected about me.  This is exactly a sign that I was treated as a criminal, isn’t it?  If it had not been a banknote for school meals of my son, I would have canceled.
      Every time this kind of things happens, I am vexed.  If we, adults, keep silence with these vexing facts, I am sure that our children will be grievously vexed with “a devil”. The outcry that “a daughter of a woman of Canaan is grievously vexed with a devil” will turn into our outcry.  No, I have already been vexed.  Soon, I may lose my soul.
before I lose completely my soul
before my son is grievously vexed with a devil,
for many daughters who are grievously vexed with a devil,
I cry for Jesus Christ.
“Kyrie, eleison.(Lord, have mercy)”
       Seeing “a tale of a concubine of a Levite” in the Old Testament (Judges 19:1-21:25), we know that silence results only in big violence. But in a tale of “the daughter of Jeph’thah”, the daughter of Japh’that and her friends resisted for two months, which resulted in a new tradition that “the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Japh’that the Gileadite four days in a year,” (Judges 11: 40).  To lament with friends has strong power.
     Therefore I cry to Jesus,
“Kyrie, eleison(Lord, have mercy).”
    Also, I believe that Japanese people are our friends.  I believe that Japanese people, as our friends, will cry to Jesus, lamenting together with us.
     I desire a realization of a new history and a history of peace which will be born by lamenting together with friends.
* This is a summary of what I spoke at an assembly named “a country where is easy to live for foreigners is also easy to live for Japanese people”.
■ Total Number of Calls and Categories Top3
[November 2009] 168
Top3 (1)DV 27, Visa Related Problems 27 (2)Child Custody 17
[December 2009] 230
Top3 (1)Visa Related Problems 31 (2)Child Custody 21 (3)DV 11
■ Total Number of Case working / Face to Face Counseling
[November 2009] Case working 8 / Face to Face Counseling 2
[December 2009] Case working 3 / Face to Face Counseling 3