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Poster : webmaster on 2013-04-05 13:40:06 (3895 reads)
Headline

On January 24 – 25, the 27th nationwide gathering of the “National Christian Conference for Promotion of a Basic Law for Foreign Residents (Gaikikyo)” was held at the United Church of Christ’s (Kyodan) Tohoku District Center in the northeastern city of Sendai.  With the theme of “Considering ‘Multiracial/Multicultural Coexistence’ from the Tohoku Disaster Area,” 40 representatives participated from the regional network (Gaikiren) of Hokkaidō, Kantō, Kanagawa, Kansai, Hiroshima and Kyūshū, from seven denominations and organizations as well as from NCC Korea.

Prior to the opening of the conference, participants boarded a minibus to visit the cities of Minami Sanriku and Ishi-no-maki, which were heavily impacted by the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. The visit was led by members of the Non-Japanese Disaster Victim Relief Center.

On the evening of the 24th, Reverend Masaji AKIBA, director of Gaikikyo, opened the conference with a prayer after which Nobuyuki SATŌ, director of Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan (RAIK), presented a summary report.  Third-generation Korean-Japanese and sociologist Kihwan KWAK, an associate professor at Tōhoku Gakuin University, then spoke on “Non-Japanese Disaster Survivors as Seen through a Survey in the City of Ishi-no-maki,” which was followed by a lively Q & A session.

The second day of the conference, January 25th, started out with a Bible study led by Rev. Jun NAKAIE (Church of Christ in Japan).  Rev. Nakaie spoke in detail about his undertaking of re-reading the Bible during his two years of relief work.  Afterward, Ms. Keiko MAEDA, disaster coordinator for YWCA of Japan, and Rev. Baekki HEO of Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) reported on “Future Issues in Assistance for Non-Japanese Disaster Survivors.”  During the lunch period, an area was set aside for conference participants from local denominations and churches to speak informally.  In the afternoon, after a workshop entitled “Reading the Basic Law for Foreign Residents while in the Disaster Region,” two church youth reported on the Japan/KCCJ “Trip for Youth” that took place last August. Later on, the entire conference planned out activities and other events for fiscal 2013.  At the closing service, Rev. Hanae IGATA, who has been struggling at a church in the devastated region, offered a message entitled “Sown seeds, sewing seeds.”

Then on January 26th, the “27th National Christian Assembly for the Promotion of a Basic Law for Foreign Residents“ was held at the Sendai Christian Church (Japan Baptist Convention) under the theme of “Praying for Multiracial/Multicultural Coexistence while in the Tohoku Disaster Area.”  Forty-six participants, including those from Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures, traveled through heavy snowfall to join the assembly.  Rev. Kanō YOSHITAKA, NCCJ vice moderator, served as emcee as hymns were sung, prayers offered and a message of solidarity was presented by The National Council of Churches in Korea.  Two migrant women, Marlene SHŌJI of Philippine Community Miyagi and Peichi YANG of Non-Japanese Disaster Victim Relief Center, spoke of their time in Japan and harsh experiences since the March 11th disaster.  After hearing their stories, Bishop Gorō MATSUURA of the Catholic Commission of Japan for Migrants, Refugees and People on the Move gave a message on Samuel 3:1-11 entitled “Responding to God Who Calls You by Name.”

Following this message, Sunhee LEE, a GCOE Fellow at Tohoku University’s School of Law who has been researching about migrant women since before the disaster, spoke in detail about current conditions and issues in a talk entitled, “Tohoku’s Migrant Women.”  The final activity of the day was to look over the assembly’s appeal.  As the snow continued, participants returned to their churches carrying with them the topic of “multiracial, multicultural coexistence.”

Please see the statement and appeal by downloading the following PDF. 

 Statement & Appeal

  Photo: Masaki TOEDA


Poster : webmaster on 2013-03-06 14:39:22 (903 reads)
Headline

CCA News, a newsletter of Christian Council of Asia of which NCCJ is a member, has been published.  
In this issue dated December 2012, as a special focus, there are reports from NCCJ and JEDRO on the activities we have been doing as to the East Japan Great Earthquake. 

Also an theological article on the Great Earthquake and the Accident of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power by Rev. Kanan Kitani, member of NCC's URM appears in the same issue. 

We really appreciate that all the churches of Asian countries and thoughout the world are praying for and supporting Japan.

Please download the issue and read the articles. The article is on P. 12-14.

CCA NEWS Vol.47, Dec. 2012


Poster : webmaster on 2013-02-13 13:42:23 (848 reads)
Headline

Hongō Catholic Church was the setting for the joint Catholic and Protestant “Prayer Service for Christian Unity” on Sunday, January 20th at 2:30pm.  Over 100 worshipers joined in the service, which opened with Tokyo’s Archbishop Takeo OKADA (Catholic) officiating.  In his sermon, NCC Moderator Rev. Koichi KOBASHI spoke of the importance of being “One in Jesus Christ” through his personal experiences in joint Protestant and Catholic activities, remarking on the clear progress in this trend.

Worshipers from 20 different Catholic organizations and 16 Protestant attended the service.  An offering of 42,909 was collected for the Dalit peoples, known as “untouchables” in
India’s caste system.  Archbishop Okada passed the monetary gift to Rev. Kobashi in order that it be delivered through NCCJ onto a group made up of pastors born into the Dalit caste.

 
Chapel of Hongo Catholic Church
 

 
Rev. Kobashi, NCC Moderator giving the message

 
Worshippers singing hymns

 

 
Archbishop Okada (center, in green clerical robe)

 


Poster : webmaster on 2012-12-19 16:41:34 (4169 reads)
Headline

 The inter-religious Conference on Nuclear Issues was held from December 5th(Wed.) to 7th(Fri.) at Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture. After the accident of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused by the East Japan Great Earthquake, the preparation for the conference has been carried out mainly by the Asia Inter-religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace Constitution.

Eighty-seven people of Christianity, Buddhism, gathered from countries of Europe, North America, and Asia to talk about how to deal with this issue from religious point of view, and in which direction we should go.

We had reports, story sharing, and discussion, and after them, on the last day of the conference, we adopted the Faith Declaration from Fukushima 2012. We would like to share the fruit of the conference with the world and strive for realization of the society without nuclear, praying for the people in the disaster area so that they could retrieve peaceful lives as before.

Please download the declaration file.

Faith DeclarationFaith Declaration 

 


Poster : webmaster on 2012-10-24 15:51:25 (2185 reads)
Headline


Walking into the NCCJ general secretary’s office, one might notice among the many books, crosses, posters, and other items that there are a few frogs here and there. Not live ones but pictures, some candy-shaped frogs on the wall, and a frog paper clip holder. Rev. Aminaka likes frogs.  Why? “They remind me to F.R.O.G., which means to “Fully Rely On God.” The cute green frog picture is on her screensaver as a prayer reminder to rely on God before her workday begins.

Rev. Shoko Aminaka was born as an only child in Meguro-ku, Tokyo. Her family was not a Christian family, but numerable experiences of the Holy Spirit have guided her life and faith journey to become a Christian and a minister. I will highlight a few of these “coincidences” or rather, “God-incidences” that have impacted her the most.

Her first encounter with Christianity came about as a five-year-old child when her grandfather passed away. Her grandfather had attended the Catholic church in Kamakura, and although he had never been baptized, his funeral was held at the church. Sitting in the pew next to Shoko was a Catholic Sister who comforted Shoko-chan (as she was called back then) and said to her, “Don’t worry. Your grandfather is in heaven with God.” This made Shoko feel better and at peace.

Her next encounter with Christianity was when her parents put her in a mission school, called Toyo Eiwa in Roppongi, Tokyo. Toyo Eiwa was founded by a Canadian missionary and considered a good school. Shoko attended chapel and was taught English by a Canadian missionary named, Ms. Rogers, in second grade. Shoko especially remembers how much she enjoyed the English spelling games! She spent 12 years at Toyo Eiwa – from elementary to high school. It was during elementary school that she first started to attend church Sunday School at Keisen Baptist Church. (When she became a general secretary of NCCJ, she met Mr. Zushi Minoru who was the chair of the NCCJ Yasukuni Shrine Committee. It turned out that he remembered her as little “Shoko-chan” at Keisen Baptist church where he was a member!! )

When Shoko Aminaka reached junior high, she was expected along with other youth to attend the adult worship. However, she found it wasn’t as interesting as Sunday School, so stopped going to church for awhile. It was in her third year of junior high that she felt called to go back to church. In her own words, she recalls discovering that “God had given life to me” and that "we are given a life from God and then go back to God when we die.” This time she attended Hijirigaoka Church which was part of the UCCJ (United Church of Christ in Japan or Kyodan). The pastor was Rev. Yamakita and he baptized her at the age of 15 on Christmas Day. She spent the following 25 years at that church.

Shoko went to university in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The university, St. Paul, or Rikkyo University, is where she majored in Christianity, Kirisutokyo Gakubu. Rikkyo University is affiliated with the Anglican/Episcopal church. Shoko remembers hearing a lecture from Rev. Koshiishi who was a pastor and part-time lecturer at Rikkyo. (Later, Rev. Koshiishi was the moderator of NCCJ, from March 2009 to March 2012.) He could not recall having had Shoko in his lecture as there were a number of students, but was very surprised to hear that she remembered him! Many years later, they now meet again through her work as the general secretary of NCCJ. This was another God-given “coincidence.”  

After graduating from Rikkyo University, she worked as an assistant director at E.T.V. (educational television) which is the educational channel under NHK Broadcasting. She was in charge of the Sunday-aired program that featured museums in Japan. Shoko Aminaka recalls the first day she went to NHK and saw a Bible displayed there, the reason being that NHK also featured a religious program called “Kokoro no Jidai” ("The Age of the Heart”). The staff of the program on museums and the religious broadcasting program both shared the same office space. Shoko thought this was a providence and remarked, “Jesus is always with me anywhere I am!” 

Later, she discovered in an unusual way that her boss at the T.V. station was also a Christian. In 1995, while working for educational T.V., the Aun Shinrikyo sarin gas attack on the subways happened. Shoko wondered, along with many others, how someone who claimed to be religious could do such a horrible thing. Asahi Newspaper had written an article about Aum Shinrikyo and then asked its readers to write a piece with their opinions about science and religion. Shoko Aminaka took this opportunity to write and submit an article. Asahi Newspaper chose her opinion piece to publish in their newspaper. The main point of her article was that science answers “how” but religion answers “why,” explaining that science cannot answer why the earth was created; only how. Her boss read the article and commented to her that he liked it. In the process, she discovered he was also Christian (although she had earlier suspected he was Christian due to his unusual first name). Again, another “God-incident.”

Shoko Aminaka stayed for five years at NHK Broadcasting creating T.V. programs. She got very good at being time-conscious since programs must end very punctually. She laughs and said, “this later helped me as a preacher, as when I asked at the church how long I should preach, I could always stay within the time limit!”

Shoko’s next job took her to UCCJ main office at the Japan Christian Center in Tokyo where she became the assistant to the general secretary, Rev. Yamakita, the man who had baptized her. He had been a mentor for her. Shoko  worked at UCCJ headquarters for seven years. It was while working there that she started what is known in UCCJ as the “C” course and began her studies to become a pastor. (Note: This is a rigorous course of study for people to become pastors who do not or cannot attend seminary full-time.) After studying for three years while working full-time, she took the exam to be licensed as a local pastor. She felt her education while working was very valuable, as she could ask many pastors who came by the UCCJ headquarters various theological questions. She became a licensed pastor of Hijirigaoka Church and continued working. Sundays became very busy as the church had both morning and evening services. She not only often preached, but also taught the junior high school youth.

Shoko Aminaka’s ordination was at Hijirigakoa Church in 2007. There were many pastors from many of the Kyodan districts in attendance whom she had gotten to know through her work at the UCCJ head office. One pastor even joked that he hoped nothing bad would happen since the UCCJ would be at a loss with so many pastors in one place at one time! Shoko said she felt truly blessed at her ordination by so many pastors and lay people who had supported her over the years.

In 2008, Rev. Aminaka became the pastor of Bethel Church which is UCCJ/Kyodan. She said, “I really spent happy days there. God was leading  the church and I was able to have the wonderful blessing of baptizing four new members there. However, I suddenly had to resign from Bethel in March, 2012 because I was asked to come to NCCJ, so they do not have a new pastor yet. Please pray for the church.”

 Rev. Aminaka preached again at Bethel Church on World Communion Sunday and enjoyed seeing the congregation again.

 When asked why she started her studies to become a pastor in the first place, she answered that it was because of the 9/11 attack. Everyone was praying for peace and the millennium year 2000 but then this horrible terrorist attack happened. As Shoko watched the news, she saw that the terrorists were using God for evil. Shoko thought she must preach that God is a God of peace and that the Bible teaches us not to kill but to love one another. It was just after 9/11 that she started her studies to become a pastor.

The name, "Shoko" means “to spread” or “to show.”  Therefore, her name can inspire her now as the means to spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ along with the message of God’s love and peace. “Aminaka” means “net” and “middle.” As Shoko reflected on the meaning of her last name, she pointed out that Jesus told the fishermen to follow him. Another "net" connection for her personally is that, although her parents were from Tokyo, her great grandfather was a fisherman in nearby Chiba prefecture.  

This scripture, “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” --- Mark 1:17 happens to be the scripture on the NCCJ brochure and the NCCJ General Assembly theme for NCCJ for the three-year term, 2012-2014. When Rev. Shoko Aminaka became the new general secretary in March of 2012, the NCCJ General Assembly was held in St. Andrew’s Anglican Church. This is just another example of the many signs of the Holy Spirit. This cannot be attributed to being "mere coincidences" but rather, “God incidences." It truly exemplifies God’s plan  that she is where she needs to be at this point in her life.

 In her closing thoughts about being the new NCCJ general secretary, Rev. Aminaka said that although she had not done much ecumenical ministry prior to coming to NCCJ, she has been enjoying learning more about the ecumenical movement and NCCJ ecumenical partners. She has also found it very meaningful to meet and work with religious leaders of various denominations and faiths, of special importance since the triple disaster in Tohoku. 

Rev. Aminaka and NCCJ have been busy preparing for the Inter-religious Conference on Nuclear Issues in Fukushima, which will be held December 3-7. The main focus of the conference is to share the current situations of people in Fukushima and to discuss the issues on nuclear energy. The Conference also aims to highlight issues related to the 2013 World Council of Churches' general assembly in Pusan. Rev. Aminaka's hope is that many will come together to learn more about the dangers of radiation and what we, as people of faith worldwide, can do together to heal our world.

As we bring our interview to a close, Rev. Shoko Aminaka looks at her frog screensaver and says, “We can only bring healing, justice, and peace by ‘fully relying on God’ as we work together.”

Interviewed by  Rev. Claudia Genung –Yamamoto
UMC missionary, Jesus Band Church at the Toyohiko Kagawa Center in Kobe


Poster : webmaster on 2012-07-27 11:58:14 (1160 reads)
Statement

 On Sunday, May 27th this year, police entered Kaizuka Catholic Church in Yokohama Diocese during mass without permission.  NCCJ has responded to this incident with the following statement.  The original Japanese documents can be downloaded below as a JPEG image.


July 3, 2012

Mr. Jin Matsubara, Chairman, National Public Safety Commission (NPSC)
Mr. Yutaka Katagiri, Commissioner General, National Police Agency (NPA)

Statement on Police Interference Conducted against
Church Activities on the Lord’s Day (Sunday)

  On Sunday, May 27, 2012, six officers with the Kawasaki Rinko Police Station entered the grounds of Yokohama Diocese’s Kaizuka Catholic Church and, ignoring the protests of Father Motoyanagi, parish pastor and administrator of the church, relentlessly questioned congregants of Filipino nationality in an intimidating manner.  This interrogation continued over a period of 50 minutes during which other members protested the actions, and ended when police made an arrest on parish grounds taking one congregant into custody.

  At the June 21st plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, a consensus was reached regarding this incident, strongly stating that “such conduct is in violation of Article 35 of the Japanese Constitution regarding provisions on illegal entry as well as infringing on religious freedom under Article 20; furthermore, this type of incident must not be repeated not only by Kawasaki Rinko Police Station, but by any police station in any prefecture” for the following reasons:

Many believers and seekers visit the Catholic Church in order to pray, celebrate mass, etc. irrespective of nationality.  In particular, Sunday mass is an especially sacred and important religious ceremony for believers.  

When believers and seekers gather for a period of peace and solemnity, preparing themselves for a celebration of mass, and the authority of the State (in the form of police officers) defies the protests of the church administrator, enters onto parish grounds and carries out questioning, it causes fear, apprehension, humiliation, anger and distress amongst congregants.  This results in an environment altogether unsuitable to conducting a holy and religious ceremony.  This action can be regarded as interference in religious activities by the authority of the State. 

The church aims to be a place where all people baring burdens, even those who have committed crimes, can come without worry.  Believers and others cannot visit a church with peace of mind if they are under the threat of being subjected to police questioning while nearby or on church grounds.  Additionally, by not considering the religious position and vow of confidentiality made by priests and in pressuring the priest coercively through indictments of “You’re protecting a criminal then, aren’t you. Tell the suspect he better leave the grounds now,” police officers deny the religious jurisdiction of the priest and desecrate the religious activities of the Catholic Church such as the sacrament of the confessional. 

The Constitution of Japan guarantees freedom of religious activities such as religious rites, missionary work and laity training for the church and believers as freedom of religion.  Additionally, the Religious Corporation Law lays out that when exercising authority, the State and public entities shall follow provisions of the law, respecting the characteristics and customs of religious corporations and particularly being mindful not to interfere with the freedom of religion. 

   From a like position of regarding religious activities on the Lord’s Day (Sunday) as “especially sacred and important,” National Christian Council in Japan fervently supports the above requests of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and strongly demands that such “police interference conducted against church activities on the Lord’s Day (Sunday)” is never repeated again by police or related entities.    

  As moderator of National Christian Council in Japan, I hereby make public this statement reached by consensus at the July 3, 2012 meeting of the Executive Council.

Rev. Koichi Kobashi
Moderator
National Christian Council in Japan 

  To download, click the image.

 


Poster : webmaster on 2012-07-15 15:06:55 (1110 reads)
Headline

 On June 11th, NCCJ had a visit from Mr. John Nduna, General Secretary of ACT Alliance, after joining the organization in May. 
Mr. Nduna participated in JEDRO’s steering committee meeting which was held in the afternoon of his arrival, and went to see the affected areas of the East Japan Great Earthquake with JEDRO staff for the next 2 days . On 14th, NCCJ and JEDRO had a presentation on ACT Alliance activities by Mr. Nduna who returned from the Tohoku region, and had a talk about the long-term cooperation with ACT Alliance.

Having had the informative talk, Mr. Nduna left Japan on 15th. He was the first official guest to NCCJ since Ms Aminaka succeeded the post of General Secretary. 
 
ACT Alliance is a Christian ecumenical aid organization. NCCJ is now receiving the support for the East Japan Great Earthquake through Church World Service (CWS).  NCC will continue cooperating with ACT Alliance basically in fund-raising appealed by ACT Alliance in terms of natural disaster support.
 

From left, Ms Noriko Lao (JEDRO staff member), Ms Shoko Aminaka (NCCJ General Secretary), Mr. John Nduna (ACT Alliance General Secretary)


Poster : webmaster on 2012-06-08 11:40:28 (976 reads)
Headline

NCCJ became a member of ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance in May this year.

Headquartered in Genève, Switzerland, ACT Alliance is a Christian international aid organization in cooperation with Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox  Churches.  Although activities had been divided between ACT International, focusing on humanitarian support, and ACT Development, focusing on developmental aid, in 2010 the two branches were brought together to form ACT Alliance.


At the same time as organizational changes were made, ACT Alliance reviewed its membership and sent NCCJ a request to formally apply.

Application was approved by the NCCJ Executive Council in September of the same year and preparations for membership moved forward.  However, work came to a halt with the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.  Ultimately, the necessary paperwork was sent in April of this year and formal membership was approved at the ACT governing board meeting in early May.


In general, ACT’s support for natural disasters covers developing countries in which member organizations are located.  For this reason, Japan, a non-member developed country, was excluded from receiving support.  However, the Great East Japan Earthquake was viewed as an exceptional case.  ACT Alliance sent out a request for support through Church World Service (CWS) soon after the disaster hit and continues its assistance activities today.

In the past, NCCJ has received requests for support from ACT when disasters have struck in various parts of the world and has responded through sending funding via donation campaigns.  Now with membership in ACT Alliance, Japan is formally qualified to also receive support.


Poster : admin on 2012-04-25 14:41:24 (1427 reads)

We are pleased to announce that we have published the pamphlet "Nuclear Power is NOT the Solution to Global Warming !! It is the worst choice for Earth's life Environment" first published in Japanese by the Japanese Catholic Council for Justice and Peace in December, 2010. This publication was realized with its permission.
Since March 11th 2011, we learned many things. This pamphlet consists of  valuable data, photos, materials. We believe that there is  a great meaning in  the fact that compact messages and materials of this pamphlet was translated into English.
We would be happy if this pamphlet helps many people to deepen the understanding about nuclear power ploblems.

To help cover printing costs, and to allow for further printing if numbers warrant, we are asking for a donation of 20 yen per copy (or 25cents), plus shipping costs, from our ecumenical partners abroad. If interested in acquiring copies, please contact us through the fax number or E-mail address below.

FAX: +81-3-3204-9495 E-mail: general@ncc-j.org




To order the Japanese version, please contact Japanese Catholic Central Council.
phone: 03-5632-4444  ĦĦURL: http://web.mac.com/jccjp/  
 

 


Poster : admin on 2012-04-13 11:43:29 (976 reads)
Headline

April 12, 2012 

Greetings in Our Risen Lord!

In this the beginning of the 38th General Assembly, NCCJ starts down a fresh path with the election of a new moderator, general secretary and officers.

We would like to express our deep appreciation once again to all of you for your thoughts and support in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011.  Although recovery in the affected region is proceeding steadily, the road ahead is long and filled with tremendous obstacles.  We ask for Our Lord’s on-going help and guidance.  With renewed determination, NCCJ will be maintaining its close ties with and supporting the activities of not only our member denominations and organizations, but also other Christian denominations and organizations as well as local churches and support groups working in the area.

The most significant issue raised by this disaster is that of nuclear energy.  Although this topic is being discussed from the aspects of technology, health, economics and politics, it must be brought into the spotlight and considered at an even deeper level.

NCCJ is now working toward creating a preparatory committee for an international conference in which Christians and members of other faith communities come together in unity to confront the issue of nuclear power.  Your knowledge, experience and cooperation would be of great help in this effort.

The more critical the problem, the more critical unity is.  With a motto of “Rather than one person taking one-hundred steps, one-hundred people taking one step,” NCCJ will move forward in its work,

“holding onto the Hope of Christ with confidence and steadfast dedication.”

In Christ,
   Koichi Kobashi,
   NCCJ Moderator


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