Joint Buraku Liberation, Kanto District Caravan Held June-July 2011

The Buraku Liberation Center (BLC) and the Kyodan’s Kanto District jointly sponsored the Buraku Liberation, Kanto District Caravan 2011. Held between June 25 and July 4, the five members of the caravan, including the summer intern at the BLC, visited churches along the 1,177 km (729.74 mile) route in the five prefectures of the district, gave presentations calling for an end to buraku discrimination, and did field work along the way. A total of 1,373 people attended the events at 22 separate locations. Two of the caravan members gave the following reports on their meaningful experiences during that time.

Fieldwork Investigation at the Ashio Copper Mine

by Inukai Mitsuhiro

As the schedule included the “Ashio Seminar,” I was looking forward to once again studying about Tanaka Shozo, but the seminar turned out to be something very different. What I saw was the remains of the Ashio Copper Mine, the memorial stone commemorating the Korean and Chinese workers who had been forcibly taken there, and a barren mountain that remained in spite of concerted efforts over the years to replant a forest on it.

In the Chikuho District of Kyushu is located the famous Hyuga Cemetery, which contains the graves of Koreans forcibly brought to the area to work in the large Omine Coal Mine operated by the Furukawa Mining Company. The pictures of Chikuho, drawn by Yamamoto Sakubei, have been registered in the UNESCO World Documentary Heritage program, but I was surprised to learn that the application to make Ashio Copper Mine a World Heritage Site is being pursued from the standpoint of something that contributed to the modernization of Japan rather than as a “negative heritage.”

As our guide, Hirayama Masamichi (pastor of Yojomachi Church in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture) pointed to a naturally secluded valley surrounded by mountains on three sides and a river on the other, he said, “This is where there was a settlement of Koreans.” Now there are various campsites and seminar houses where lots of children and young people come to study. But I wonder what it is that they actually study.

Unless someone explains the true history of this place, it will—just like Chikuho—disappear into oblivion. It will also be like the nearby Toshogu Shrine area in Nikko, which we had also visited earlier. There, the ancient road leading up to the shrines is lined with cedar trees that have grown to giant size over the centuries. There is, however, a break in the line of trees on both sides of the highway. This is where it went by the area of the discriminated-against buraku. Of the tens of thousands of visitors that go up that road every year, I wonder how many of them even notice it.


by Koito Kensuke

On July 4, the last day of the Caravan, caravan members along with other interested persons, spent the morning visiting the buraku area in Sayama, where the biggest frame-up in the history of buraku discrimination occurred—the infamous “Sayama Incident.” As the result of the incessant pressure put on him by the police, along with their false promises, Ishikawa Kazuo consented to signing the trumped-up confession, in which the details of his alleged crime were written up. But as we followed the supposed route of the crime, looking at the details, it is very obvious that the story cooked up by the investigators is utterly impossible. Following the “confession,” as is, certainly drove that point home to me.
Unfortunately, the relevant points along the route have changed rather dramatically over the years, as roads were widened and paved and new buildings built, so that little remains of the situation as it was at the time of the incident almost 50 years ago. I could not help but think that those who want to hide the facts of this incident are more than happy to see these changes in the landscape.

In the midst of that, however, the headquarters of the effort to overturn the Sayama trial is in a small museum-like structure that is a re-creation of Ishikawa’s home at the time of the incident. There we met with Ishikawa himself to listen to what he had to say. He finished his talk with a Tanka poem that he had written, which roughly translates as: “The tears resulting from my sufferings, instead of drying up, have become a river. Riding on that torrent, let’s break down the walls of the court.” As I listened to that poem, I could only long for the day when he would finally get his day in court to prove his innocence.

In the afternoon, we all went to nearby Sayama Church for the final worship service concluding the “Buraku Liberation, Kanto District Caravan 2011.” All five caravan members gave reports on their experiences and shared various pictures, along with some songs. Ishikawa Kazuo gave another talk after that, and we all listened intently to his appeal.

Ishikawa’s wife also talked to us about their ongoing fight, and we all felt anew the importance of continuing to support them in their struggle. It was a fitting ending to our caravan tour. (Tr. TB)

From Kyodan Shinpo (Kyodan Times)


「部落解放 関東教区キャラバン2011」を



Message of Peace Aug. 7, 2011

by Ishibashi Hideo, Kyodan moderator and
Choi Young Shin, Korean Christian Church in Japan moderator

The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, which resulted in the unprecedented number of nearly 20,000 dead and missing persons, has given those of us living in Japan great sorrow and pain. The tsunami that swallowed 500 kilometers (310 miles) of coastline stretching from the Tohoku region to the Kanto region has particularly shown us the fearful power of nature, which mercilessly destroyed people’s lives, and has revealed how weak we are in the midst of such tragedy. In this difficult time, we Christians in Japan who have been given an “incomprehensible hardship” search for meaning, while supporting together the many people who are suffering great pain, and try to understand and bring hope to start down the road to reconstruction. Why? Because we believe that the despairing event of “the death on the cross of God’s only Son,” made by God to be the vessel for saving all the people of the earth, was God’s plan for our incomprehensible conversion to become vessels to bring hope to the world.

We, the Kyodan and the Korean Church of Christ in Japan (KCCJ), through our respective reconstruction plans, have determined to be present with the people who are suffering, not only Christians but also all people affected by the disaster. For this reason, besides emergency support, which is already being provided, we work with people to help them return to a normal lifestyle and to give spiritual support. Along with support to help with the reconstruction of churches, we are creating mid- and long-term support plans. Jesus said: “As you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40) So we have a great interest in assisting those who are the most vulnerable in devastated areas, such as children, persons who have disabilities or are aging, and foreigners, to return to a normal life. When necessary, within our separate support plans, both the Kyodan and the KCCJ will cooperate and assist each other in accordance with our mission agreement established in 1984.

On the other hand, this tragedy has shown people who live in Japan the mistaken road they have been walking. Because of the power of the earthquake and tsunami, which exceeded anyone’s imagination, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant released a frightening amount of dangerous radiation and continues to endanger many people. Even though Japan is the only country to suffer from nuclear weapons and should know better than any other country the danger of nuclear power, slogans such as “necessity,” “safety,” “economics”, and recently, “environmentalism” have been used to promote nuclear proliferation. Also, even aware of the continued contamination from this terrible accident, the government concealed much of the truth and raised the standard radiation contamination limit, thus creating an emergency situation and disregarding their responsibility for the health and lives of the people. Already, the slogans that have been supporting nuclear energy promotion, “necessity,” “safety,” “economics”, and “environmentalism,” have clearly been exposed as falsehood. Through this accident the government has placed the people living in eastern Japan in danger and has polluted the environment of the entire world for the pursuit of convenience and profit, and the people of this country who supported this pursuit caused this “man-made disaster” by getting involved in something they should never have touched. We arrogant human beings have received a warning for our sin.

The Kyodan and the KCCJ sincerely wish to walk together for this cause and to pray for the following items related to this unprecedented disastrous situation:
1. Long-term support and mental health care for the victims of affected communities as well as sufficient
support from the government to match the efforts of the victims;
2. Sufficient support and care for foreign victims of the disaster as well as monitoring of abuse or
3. Absolute disclosure rather than concealment of the truth concerning radiation contamination and other facts
by the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO);
4. Complete security for people in the mandatory evacuation area, emergency evacuation area, and preparedness
evacuation area;
5. Explanation of the rationale for why, after the nuclear accident, the radiation contamination limit for TEPCO
workers and for children was permitted to be raised and a return of the limits to appropriate numbers; and
6. Ceasing the operation of all nuclear power plants and the removal of all reactors as well as an earnest effort
to replace all nuclear power plants with renewable energy sources. (Tr. WJ)

From Kyodan Shinpo (Kyodan Times)



日本基督教団 総会議長 石橋秀雄
在日大韓基督教会 総会長 崔栄信




1 被災者に対する公共の中・長期的支援が、精神的なケアも含めて適正に行われること。また被災者支援にあたる民間の努力に対して、政府による支援が十分に行われること。
2 被災した外国籍者に対する公共の支援とケアが適正に行われること。また災害弱者に対する虐待や差別的待遇の有無が監視されること。
3 日本政府と東京電力が、原発事故と放射能汚染に関わる全ての客観的事実を、隠すことなく明らかにすること。
4 原発事故により警戒区域・緊急時避難準備区域・計画的避難区域に指定された地域の住民たちに対する生活保障が、完全に実施されること。
5 原発事故後、原発作業員の被曝量、また子どもたちの被曝許容量の引き上げに関し、その合理的な根拠を明示し、その値を適正値にもどすこと。
6 全ての原発の稼働を停止し、廃炉を前提とした処置が取られること。また原子力発電に取って代わる自然エネルギーの開発が全力で取り組まれること。

The General Secretary's Diary

The executive secretaries’ meeting, usually held every Monday morning, is attended by the six executive secretaries under the general secretary–seven members in total. The meeting on July 25 was centered on the reports of each executive secretary.

The Executive Secretary on General Affairs reported on the symposium to be hosted by the Kyodan at Ginza Church, Aug. 29-30, on the theme “Christianity and the Present Crisis in Japan–Issues Raised by the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake.” Oki Hideo, former president of Tokyo Union Theological Seminary, is to be the guest lecturer. Four other speakers (a pastor, a theologian, a Christian educator, and a Christian social worker) are to give presentations. Announcements about the symposium are to be sent to all Kyodan-related churches. A list of Kyodan churches within Ou, Tohoku, and Kanto districts that sustained earthquake damage was also distributed that included details about the extent of the damage at each of the 47 churches as well as at 8 related facilities. A joint meeting between the Kyodan Executive Committee and Kyodan Administrative Officers is scheduled on Aug. 9, and the matters to be discussed there were also reported.

The Executive Secretary on Financial Affairs shared that the Committee for the Examination of Financial Reports had issued its report. Included was an explanation about the decision to reduce the amounts of the annual church apportionments for the 2012 fiscal year (about 6 million yen [$77,922]), for the three disaster-stricken districts and to compensate for that from a fiscal year 2011 surplus fund. For the next three years after 2012, the other 14 districts will bear this additional burden.

The Executive Secretary for the Commission on Ministry reported on the orientation that was held June 20-22 for ministers newly appointed during this fiscal year, under the theme “Working together as ministers of the Kyodan to accomplish its mission.” There were 78 participants in all, including 49 newly appointed ministers and 3 directors of Christian education. It was a good opportunity to enjoy the blessings of new encounters and fellowship, and the participants benefited from reviewing the basics of the Kyodan system. However, the conspicuous decrease in the number of participants in recent years is an issue that needs to be addressed in the coming years. Another item reported on was the discussion of issues involved in disciplinary admonitions.

The Executive Secretary for the Commission on Ministerial Qualifications reported on the fiscal year 2011 fall ministerial qualification examinations to be held Sept. 13-16 at the Osaka Christian Center. There are 58 applicants in the category of ordained minister and 19 in the category of licensed preacher. (There are more applicants for the spring examination.) Final decisions on those who have passed the examination are to be made on Oct. 14. There has been a gradual decrease in the number of applicants in recent years, which is an indication of the weakening of the Kyodan’s evangelistic strength. This is an issue that the Kyodan needs to address immediately, along with the apparent weakening in the sense of calling of those taking the examinations.

The Executive Secretary on Social Concerns reported that the emergency fundraising campaign for the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake was completed at the end of June, with more than 100 million yen being raised. The collected donations have been transferred to the Disaster Relief Planning Headquarters and are being used for relief operations.

The Executive Secretary on Ecumenical Ministries reported that the persons in charge of the United Methodist Church’s overseas disaster relief came from the U.S. to visit the Kyodan to review the situation following the great earthquake and tsunami. They were informed about the extent of damage that the Kyodan has been able to determine, especially that caused by the severe tsunami, as well as the state of affairs caused by radioactive contamination from the nuclear accident. The Kyodan-based relief operations to date were also described. Incidentally, the relief donations from various overseas churches and denominations have already reached approximately 150 million yen, and quite a large amount of funds is expected to be sent henceforth through the Kyodan to support reconstruction projects in the stricken areas. (Tr. SM)

—Naito Tomeyuki, general secretary