Friday, June 20, 2014

"For Herod feared John" - Repent Even If You Are Not Homeless


Repent Even If You Are Not Homeless

A decade before the 2008 Financial Crisis, John Grisham wrote a novel where an eite lawyer in Washington DC turned to be a legal adviser for homeless people and other helpless people.
A homeless man calling himself "Mister" enters the offices of the Washington DC law firm Drake & Sweeney and takes many of the lawyers hostage. Although he is eventually shot by a police sniper and the hostages freed, one of the hostages, an antitrust lawyer named Michael Brock, is concerned by what he has learned and feels compelled to investigate further. He finds his way to the 14th Street Legal Clinic, where he meets Mordecai Green, an advocate for the homeless, who asks him to help one night at a homeless shelter. As Brock's investigation deepens, he finds that his own employer was complicit in an illegal eviction, which eventually resulted in the death of a young homeless family. He takes a confidential file, intending to copy it, but is quickly suspected of its theft. Shocked by what he has found, Brock leaves his firm to take a poorly paid position with the 14th Street Legal Clinic, which works to protect the rights of the homeless. This leads to his wife divorcing him. He admits one of his clients, Ruby, to a therapy class for drug-addicted women, and in the process meets Megan. As Drake & Sweeney comes after Brock with theft and malpractice allegations, the Clinic launches a lawsuit against the law firm and its business partners. Terrified of the certain bad publicity, the matter is settled by mediation and the clinic receives a large payout to be shared with the victims of the eviction. Drake & Sweeney's head partner, deeply troubled by the events, offers to make pro bono staff available to assist the work of the Clinic in fighting for the rights of homeless people. The book ends with Brock taking a short vacation with Megan and Ruby, and them reflecting on their lives. 
Nobody thinks that this kind of a drastic change in one's career is possible, especially if he is a highly-paid lawyer working in a renowned law firm.  However there seem to many lawyers involved in cases related to poor relief in the US.
Homeless Persons Have Rights, Too.
Homeless ManHomelessness is a serious problem in some areas of the United States. Many state and municipal laws put restrictions on the conduct of the homeless. In many cities, they can't panhandle, loiter, or sleep wherever they want. However, the U.S. government passed legislation in 1987 to provide some specific rights to the homeless as well, under certain circumstances.

The law surrounding the rights of the homeless people is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a civil rights lawyer.
Some such organizations, including Southern Legal Counsel, seem to be spurred on to their efforts to saving homeless Americans in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

SLC's Homeless Advocacy Project is a statewide project to protect and defend the civil and human rights of homeless individuals and their advocates.  The Project has two main objectives: 1) combat the criminalization of homelessness and 2) identify and address systemic issues faced by homeless individuals and their advocates that violate their civil and human rights.  The Project seeks to address these objectives through the provision of community education and outreach to inform homeless individuals and advocates about their rights, and through legal and policy advocacy including impact litigation.  It also provides training and technical assistance for advocates and attorneys.
National Forum on the Human Right to Housing.  On November 8th and 9th, 2009, more than 150 advocates from 20 states gathered in Washington, DC for the 2009 National Forum on the Human Right to Housing.  The event was hosted by Georgetown University Law Center, and co-sponsored by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, the US Human Rights Network, National Fair Housing Alliance, and the National Alliance of HUD Tenants.   The highlight of the conference was the National Town Hall on the Right to Housing where advocates presented testimony to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik, who made the Forum the final stop on her two week fact-finding mission to the United States.

SLC presented written and oral testimony to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights violations that are caused by the criminalization of homelessness in Florida.  SLC called for local and state governments to develop constructive alternatives to criminalizing homelessness and to repeal or cease enforcement of such laws and policies.  The Special Rapporteur presented her final report about her country visit to the United Nations Human Rights Council in March 2010.  Her final report included findings about human rights violations caused by homelessness and a recommendation that the US develop constructive alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness. 

So then, John Grisham's The Street Lawyer can be regarded as a kind of prophecy for the 2008 Lehman Shock and subsequent global financial crisis, since it was written in 1998.

And also, the Gulf War that started in January 1991 with the Congress of the United States passing a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Saddam's Iraq to liberate Kuwait can be regarded as a kind of prophecy for the 9/11 Terror on the US in 2001.

Of course the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. in a crash of a plane he was piloting off the coast of Martha's Vineyard can be regraded as a kind of prophecy for the assumption of the presidency by Mr. Barack Obama in 2009.

Indeed 10 years ago, a terrible natural disaster occurred as a kind of prophecy for something terrible that should happen in 2014.
December 26 – One of the worst natural disasters in recorded history hits Southeast Asia, when the strongest earthquake in 40 years, measuring 9.3 on the Richter scale, hits the entire Indian Ocean region, which generates an enormous tsunami that crashes into the coastal areas of a number of nations including Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. The official death toll in the affected countries stands at 186,983 while more than 40,000 people are still missing.
So, repent even if you are not homeless persons!

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Mar 6:20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

"and healed them all" - The First African in Japan


The First African in Japan

Who was the first African that came to Japan in the history?

It seems to have been a young African man from Island of Mozambique who was recruited or forced by Europeans to serve missionaries sent by the Vatican or its subordinate organizations.  Some of these Catholic missionaries came to Japan in the late 16th century to preach the gospel.  Japan was at the time in the Age of Civil Wars.  The shogun or the head of the samurai class lost power through armed conflicts among different samurai clans, while the imperial court had had no political power for centuries.

Nonetheless, there emerged one very strong and unique warlord.  Oda Nobunaga was an open-minded samurai leader; he loved Western goods Western missionaries brought with them into Japan.  Especially he found merit in matchlock guns Portuguese merchants brought into Japan in 1543.  Nobunaga had craftsmen produce thousands or more harquebuses to equip his samurai soldiers with them.  With this new tactics based on guns, Nobunaga conquered one third of Japan so quickly.  It looked like a matter of time that rising warlord Nobunaga, born around presently Nagoya in 1534, would soon put all the samurai warlords in Japan under his rule, since he had already controlled Kyoto and the imperial court in this old capital of imperial Japan.

And during this unquiet time of Japan, a young African man, who was later named Yasuke by Oda Nobunaga, arrived at Japan.   
Yasuke arrived in Japan in 1579 as the servant of the Italian Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, who had been appointed the Visitor (inspector) of the Jesuit missions in the Indies, i.e. S. and E. Asia, an extremely high position, so Yasuke must have been quite trustworthy. He accompanied Valignano when the latter came to the capital area in March 1581 and caused something of a sensation. In one event, several people were crushed to death while clamouring to get a look at him. Nobunaga heard about him and expressed a desire to see him. Suspecting the black color of his skin to be paint, Nobunaga had him strip from the waist up and made him scrub his skin.[2]

Nobunaga's nephew gave him money. In May, Yasuke accompanied a group of Jesuits on a short trip to the province of Echizen. Yasuke could speak some Japanese, so Nobunaga enjoyed talking with him and was also impressed by his strength. At Nobunaga's request, Valignano left Yasuke with Nobunaga before Valignano left central Japan later that year. Nobunaga treated Yasuke with such great favor that people in Azuchi even said he would probably be made a 'tono' (lord). This did not happen, but he was given the position of samurai (shikan).

In June 1582, Nobunaga was attacked and killed in Honnō-ji in Kyoto by the army of Akechi Mitsuhide. Yasuke was also there at the time. Immediately after Nobunaga's death, Yasuke went to the lodging of Nobunaga's heir Oda Nobutada and withdrew with him to Nijō Castle. When that too was attacked by Akechi, Yasuke fought alongside the Nobutada forces for a long time. Finally he surrendered his sword to Akechi's men. They asked Akechi himself what to do with him. Akechi said that the black man was a beast and did not know anything, and furthermore, he was not Japanese, so they should not kill him but take him to the church [in Kyoto] of the Visitor from India, so they did, much to the relief of the Jesuits there who had worried about him. There is no information about him after that.

The "Lord Nobunaga Chronicle" (Shinchōkōki) has a description of Yasuke's first meeting with Nobunaga. "On the 23rd of the 2nd month [March 23, 1581], a black page ("kuro-bōzu") came from the Christian countries. He looked about 26 [24 or 25 by Western count] or 27 years old; his entire body was black like that of an ox. The man was healthy and good-looking. Moreover, his strength was greater than that of 10 men." 
After Matsudaira Ietada had met Yasuke in May 1582, Ietada journalized his looks. " His name was Yasuke. His height was 6 shaku 2 sun (6 ft. 2 in., or 188 cm.). He was black, and his skin was like charcoal." If so, his tall stature would have been very imposing to the Japanese of the day. 
Yasuke was also mentioned in the prototype of Shinchōkōki owned by Sonkeikaku Bunko. According to this, Yasuke was given his own house and a short katana by Nobunaga. Nobunaga also assigned him the duty of "Dōgumochi," the porter of his Yari[3][4] 
A 2013 investigation by Discovery of the World's Mysteries concluded that Yasuke was a Makua named Yasufe.[5]

Even the US Marine Corps website picked up this episode in the Japanese history:

Anartist's illustration of Yasuke, an African slave who traveled with Italian Jesuit missionaries when they arrived in Japan in 1579. Legend has it Yasuke caused such a commotion upon his arrival people came in droves and clamored over one another to see him. He was rumored to have stood between 6'3" and 6'5" tall, towering over the Japanese and even many of the Italians. Tales also stated he was either 26 or 27 years old, and stronger than 10 men. After traveling with the missionaries for a time, Oda Nobunaga, the famous Japanese warlord, asked the missionaries that Yasuke be left with him for a time as he was intrigued about the African's homeland. Legend has it he was made a samurai in title only but was also said to have traveled with Nobunaga in full regalia and armaments.(Photo by Paul R. Bondoc)

From other sources, Yasuke seems to have served a warlord in Kyusyu after the assassination of Oda Nobunaga, since Akechi Mitsuhide, a samurai general who killed Nobunaga, released Yasuke after having captured this African samurai, since Yasuke was not Japanese and thus could be pardoned.   At the time there were many Christians in Kyusyu, the most southwestern island of the four major islands of Japan.  And trade with South East Asia was freely conducted by Japanese merchants at the time.  So, Yasuke must have left Japan with Japanese merchants and samurais who wanted to develop their careers, riding movement of economic expansion or colonization in Asia by Spaniards, Portuguese, the Dutch, etc.

Months before Oda Nobunaga was assassinated in Kyoto in 1582, the first official Japanese mission to Europe started to sail out of Japan as a result of diplomatic and religious efforts by those European missionaries.  This Tenshō embassy (named after the Tenshō Era in which the embassy took place) was specifically formed and sent by the Japanese Christian Lord Ōtomo Sōrin to the Pope and the kings of Europe in 1582, and they took a route to Europe via  Island of Mozambique.  So, the sea route from Japan to  Island of Mozambique must have been often used by Portuguese, etc.  Yasuke must have had a chance to sail back to his home island after leaving Japan with Japanese merchants to colonies of Portugal, etc. in South East Asia.

If we explore Island of Mozambique more carefully, we might trace of Yasuke featured by something Japanese.

A group of Portuguese Nanbanforeigners, 17th century, Japan. Yasuke was the servant of Jesuits similar to the black depicted in this picture.

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Luk 6:19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
Luk 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.

"An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations" - A Japanese who Met Abraham Lincoln


A Japanese who Met Abraham Lincoln

In 1851 Hikozo, a 13-year old Japanese mariner, encountered a tempest while a ship where he served was sailing along the Pacific coast lines of Japan to Edo (presently Tokyo) from west Japan.

However, after two months of drifting in the Ocean, he and other mariners were rescued by an American commercial ship.  They got to San Francisco, but the US Government decided to return them to Japan as the then Japanese samurai government closed the nation.  Hikozo and his company were sent to Hong Kong.  They were expected to be taken on board a ship of an American naval fleet led by Commodore Perry who planned to visit Edo and request the Tokugawa shogun to establish a diplomatic tie with the US.  At the Time, as Herman Melville wrote, whaling by American ships in the Pacific Ocean was very thriving.  They needed help from Japan to secure water, foods, and other services needed by American ships whaling around Japanese seas.

Perry's fleet arrival was delayed.  Except one Japanese marine, other Japanese decided not to be involved in the difficult diplomatic movement, thus running away from the American control.  Most of the Japanese mariners left for a Japanese who happened to live in Hong Kong, though he was aslo an ex-mariner of a Japanese ship that had been wrecked.  But Hikozo and another Japanese got on a ship heading for San Francisco.

So, Hikozo did not become part of the historic incident of Commodore Perry's arrival at Edo Bay (Tokyo Bay) in 1853.  However he received a favor from an American custom chief in San Francisco, named Saunders.  With Saunders, Hikozo moved to New York and then attended a mission school in Baltimore. On September 15, 1853, Hikozo met US President Franklin Pierce.

In 1858, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce was concluded between the shogun government at Edo and the US.  As the samurai regime forbade Christianity at the time, Hikozo who became a Chrstian in America abandoned Japanese nationality to become a naturalized citizen of the US.  Then he was employed by Townsend Harris, the first United States Consul General to Japan, as an interpreter.  Hikozo came back to Japan in 1859 for the first time in nine years.

Japan was then toward a civil war because the anti-shogun camp was gaining strength. Samurais who opposed diplomatic policies of the Tokugawa shogun were trying to topple the Tougawa regime and expell Americans and other Westerners from Japan.  Some radical samurais were really attacking foreigners around Yokohama, a port city near Edo opened for foreigners.  So, Hikozo felt that his life was at stake.  He returned to the US in 1861.  And, he met Abraham Lincoln on March 31, 1862.  Hikozo became the only Japanese who saw Abraham Lincoln.  Or Abraham Lincoln met at least one Japanese in his life time.

In December 1862, Hikozo returned to Japan again.  Since then, Hikozo worked in Japan, handling business in various fields.  He died in Tokyo in 1897 as an American citizen.

While Hikozo was running a commerce firm in Yokohama in 1862, he read an article about Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in The New York Times he subscribed to.  It gave him a hint for publishing a newspaper in Japan.  In 1864, Hikozo started issuance of a newspaper in Japan, though commercial information papers had been occasionally delivered in Tokyo and other Japanese cities under rule of samurais.  Hikozo's newspaper is today regraded as the first trial of publishing modern newspapers in Japan.  Though Hikozo's newspaper business was terminated in two yeras, subsequent newspapers issued by other parties followed the style of Hikozo's modern newspaper.

So, we might say that there is a linkage between Abraham Lincoln and start of modern newspaper business in Japan.

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Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
Pro 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
Pro 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Pro 6:20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"the great day of his wrath" - Land Mine Clearance Work in Cambodia

Around Tokyo

Land Mine Clearance Work in Cambodia

The number of land mines laid in each country (as of 1998):

1. Egypt        23 million

2. Iran         16 million

3. Angola       14 million

4. Afghanistan  10 million

5. China        10 million

6. North Iraq   10 million

7. Cambodia      6 million

8. Vietnam      3.5 million

There is one particular Japanese who is engaged in mine removal work in Cambodia.

Mr. Ryoji Takayama, born in Ehime Prefecture of west Japan in 1947, first went to Cambodia as a member of a special battalion of Japanese Self-Defense Forces that was formed for a PKO operation in Cambodia between 1992 and 1993.

In 2002 Takayama retired from office to join Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS), a specified nonprofit corporation specializing in mine clearance work in Cambodia, Laos, Angola, etc.  Then he moved to Cambodia to launch an organization to remove land mines. Takayama left JMAS in 2010 while he became an adviser to Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) run by the Cambodian Government.   In 2011 Takayama was appointed to an adviser for recovery and reconstruction by the Batdambang government of Cambodia.

Now he is head director of International Mine Clearance and Community Development, an NPO Takayama established for his activities in Cambodia (

Cambodia is a country in located South East Asia that has a major problem with landmines, especially in rural areas. This is the legacy of three decades of war which has taken a severe toll on the Cambodians; it has some 40,000 amputees, which is one of the highest rates in the world.[1] The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) estimates that there may be as many as four to six million mines and other pieces of unexploded ordnance in Cambodia. 
Finding the location of the mines with no witness or map record is a very difficult task that needs very specific tools, and demands a lot of time, and trained staff, and therefore also a lot of investment. 
 "In Cambodia, 87% of surviving landmine victims are males over 15 years old, with a mean age of 28 years. In Afghanistan, 73% are males between ages 16 to 50, and 20% of the victims are male children." 
The National Level One Survey in Cambodia conducted in 2002 found that 20% (2776 out of 13908) of all villages in Cambodia are still contaminated by minefields and/or cluster bomb areas with reported adverse socio-economic impacts on the community. 
The Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) was established in late 2000. The CMAA regulates and coordinates all mine action activities, and establishes policies and procedures. Currently, there are four (main) demining organizations working in Cambodia - The Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), The HALO Trust, and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG).[11] CMAA estimates that the combined cost for demining operations, including technical assistance and in kind contributions for Cambodia are approximately $30 million per year.[12] Experts also estimate that Cambodia will need another 10 to 20 years to clear the mines if the current level of funding is maintained.
Ryoji Takayama also supports Children learning Japanese in villages in Cambodia.  And he and his NPO help one Cambodian young woman learn in a university in Japan.  More young people might learn Japanese and come to Japan for further study.  

In 2010 the number of Japanese businesses that register with the Japanese Chamber of Commerce in Cambodia was about 50, but now it is over 100 while it is estimated that about 130 Japanese businesses operate in Cambodia.  In deed, more and more companies might move their plants from China to Cambodia.

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Rev 6:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Monday, June 16, 2014

"he is risen from the dead" - The Battle of Saipan of 1944

Imperial Palace Plaza Park, Tokyo

The Battle of Saipan of 1944

Summer is the season for Japan to remember the war against the US over the Pacific Ocean that had been conducted between 1941 and 1945.

One of the most remembered battle fields is Saipan Island.  At the time, namely in June 1944, the Imperial Government in Tokyo led by Prime Minister/Army General Hideki Tojyo asserted that the island could well stand American assaults, since it was well fortified and a few divisions were stationed with support of hundreds of Zero fighters and other military planes.  However the US sent twice larger number of soldiers and used ten times larger ammunition with cover by more than 1,000 fighters and bombers and  20 battle ships and cruisers.

The defeat in Saipan led to Tojo's resignation from premiership one month after the battle.  Most of Japanese elites understood that they lost this Pacific War, though it took one more year for the Empire of Japan to surrender.
The Battle of Saipan was a battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the island of Saipan in the Mariana Islands from 15 June–9 July 1944. The Allied invasion fleet embarking the expeditionary forces left Pearl Harbor on 5 June 1944, the day before Operation Overlord in Europe was launched.

In the campaigns of 1943 and the first half of 1944, the Allies had captured the Solomon Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Papuan Peninsula of New Guinea. This left the Japanese holding the Philippines, the Caroline Islands, Palau Islands and Mariana Islands.

It had always been the intention of the American planners to bypass the Carolines and Palaus and to seize the Marianas and Taiwan. From these latter bases communications between the Japanese homeland and Japanese forces to the south and west could be cut. In addition, from the Marianas Japan would be well within the range of an air offensive relying on the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress long-range bomber with its operational radius of 1,500 mi (2,400 km).

United States             Imperial Japan
71,000                   31,000
Casualties and losses
3,426 killed               24,000 killed
10,364 wounded        5,000 suicides
                             921 prisoners
                             10,000 civilians dead (mostly suicides)

In the night of June 16, 1944, the Imperial Army command center of Saipan luanched the all-out offensive with 8,000 soldiers and 44 tanks.  To encounter them, American troops concentrated overwhelming fire power, delivering 800 rounds per hour from cannons and 10,000 bullets per hour from machine guns. Accordingly most of Japanese sodiers were killed.  The Japanese tank regiment consisting of 800 sodiers lost about 770.  One suvivor later said that he fired more than 2,000 bullets from a machine gun of his tank, but Americans fired ten times more.

The worst incident in the Battle of Saipan was that many Japanese citizens, like Japanese soldiers, were afraid of being captured alive by US forces. They opted to commit suicide. It is reported that one day more than 70 citizens killed themselves so as not to live as captives to be subjected to humiliating treatment.

After occupation of Saipan, the US military captured and protected 14,949 noncombatants, including 10,424 Japanese, 1,300 Koreans, and other Pacific islanders.  It is estimated that about 10,000 Japanese citizens were killed in this battle.

After the Battle of Saipan, the Imperial military continued to lose its strongholds and occupied areas from other parts of Mariana Islands, Iwo-Jima Island, the Philippines, and Okinawa.

The hot summer of 1945 is still partly alive in Japan or in Japanese mind sets of today, since battles were so furious and victims were so huge in the number.

Remnant of the Battle of Saipan: Abandoned Japanese Tank

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Mar 6:14 And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.
Mar 6:15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.
Mar 6:16 But when Herod heard thereof, he said, It is John, whom I beheaded: he is risen from the dead.