Church World Service Japan coordinated an event with 130 attendees on Nov. 30, 2016 at Waseda Hoshien’s Scott Hall in Tokyo entitled “The Message of LARA for Today, 70th Anniversary of LARA Forum.” “LARA” stands for “Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia” and was a program approved by President Harry Truman to facilitate the provision of “LARA goods,” such as clothes, shoes, and food to the Japanese people by churches and other organizations in North America. From 1946 until 1952, roughly one-sixth of the Japanese people, about 14 million, received aid, worth about 40 billion yen. Such aid was also provided to Korean people.
During the opening ceremonies, former Kyodan General Secretary Nagasaki Tetsuo, as a representative of the Kyodan, which at that time was made up of all Protestant Churches, and by extension as the representative of all Japanese, expressed his gratitude to the leaders of the organizations making up LARA. These included the Reverend George Ernest Bott (Church World Service), Esther B. Rose (American Friends Service), Father Michael J. Mackilop (Catholic War Relief Service), as well as 13 other church and civic group organizations that joined in the effort: the Church World Service affiliates of the various North American Protestant denominations, the American Friends Service Committee, the Catholic War Relief Service Committee, the Salvation Army, the YMCA and the YWCA, the American Federation of Labor, the Congregation of Industrial Organization, the Brethren Service Committee, the Girl Scouts, the Lutheran World Relief, the Unitarian Service Committee, and the Christian Science Service Commitee.
Yamada Kanji, chairman of the Board of Directors, Japan Church World Service, emceed the program, which began with a video introduction of LARA. This was followed by presentations by representatives of the USA and Japan: the Reverend John L. McCullough, president and CEO of Church World Service, and Miyamoto Kazumu, principal of Bott Memorial Home, who focused on the spirit of LARA and how it was based in the Christian faith and the Bible.
Part 2 of the program consisted of a panel discussion by five representatives of humanitarian organizations, led by CWS Japan Director Komino Takeshi. The panel members were: Saiki Mitsue, director of Japan Church World Service; Katayama Nobuhiko, national director of World Vision Japan; Yamamoto Masaki, chief director of Hope House; Shimada Shigeru, general secretary of the National Council of YMCAs of Japan; and Kokai Chang Hikari, representative director of Wesley Zaidan, all of whom spoke passionately of their individual perspectives.
The program concluded with a time of fellowship in Scott Gallery, located in the basement of Scott Hall. It was a wonderful opportunity for us all to reflect back on the spirit behind the LARA program and to think about how Christian churches and other organizations can best conduct humanitarian aid in today’s world. (Tr. TB)
— Nagasaki Tetsuo, former general secretary
A movie on LARA’s history can be viewed on YouTube at http://www.cwsjapan.org/lara.