Saturday, August 22, 2015

"he went into a ship with his disciples" - An Episode of a Notable Japanese Christian in WWII

A Shinto Shrine around Tokyo

An Episode of a Notable Japanese Christian in WWII

I saw a car with the license plate number including only 1 in its four digit component.  It was not 90-01, 8-01, 11 or any such number; it was just "1."

Then I saw another car with the license plate number including only 2 in its four digit component.  And then, I saw another car with the license plate number including only 3 in its four digit component.  It happened within two hours.  Of course many other cars were running on roads with plate numbers such as 44-82, 9-73, 23, etc.

Such an experience has been very rare even on streets around Tokyo where you can encounter thousands of cars in 2 hours.

But what did I do meanwhile?  I was standing on a sacred pond of a shinto shrine.  Its dirk green water was muddy and murky, since the shrine was reportedly first built 1000 years ago or before.  But I could spot some large carps.  Red, white, mixed-color, and black carps were swimming actively without minding quality of water.

Then I moved to another pond adjacent to the shrine.  Its water was clear and pellucid, since fresh water is provided through a tiny channel running from a Japanese garden.  And I could also spot some large carps.  Red, white, mixed-color, and black carps were swimming actively without appreciating quality of water.

When I returned to my residence, I read a book about how Imperial Japanese soldiers had treated Chinese citizens they suspected as spies (without solid proof) and Chinese prisoners of war during WWII.  Put simply, Japanese troops regarded all the Chinese as their enemies so that they executed most of those unlucky Chinese who had fallen into the hands of Japanese soldiers.  Especially, Imperial Army's regiments of military policemen were in charge of cruel investigation and execution of suspected Chinese whether or not they were civilians or soldiers.

But the most interesting is an episode that Toyohiko Kagawa, the most notable Japanese Christian priest before, during, and after WWII, visited Beijing during the war.  A Japanese Christian medical doctor then working in Beijing told Kagawa the real state of occupation of Beijing by the Japanese Imperial Army.  Japanese soldiers were too easily killing Chinese people on the dubious grounds for spying or sometimes without any serious reasoning.  The doctor asked Kagawa to go back to Japan, publicly inform against brutal practices of Japanese soldiers to Chinese citizens, and work on the Imperial Government and the general public so as to stop these cruel conduct.

However Kagawa did not do anything helpful to poor Chinese victims.  Rather, many Japanese Christians, including those associated with Kagawa, announced their strong support for the Imperial Government in its execution of wars against China and even the US.  Indeed, there were almost no Japanese Christians who blamed the Imperial Government and military for cruel treatment of innocent Chinese and other Asian citizens during WWII.

Nonetheless, after WWII, when the Japanese medical doctor came back to Japan, Toyohiko Kagawa visited him for apology for his negligence despite an ardent request from the doctor to give warning of atrocity of the war in China to the Japanese public.

Toyohiko Kagawa had been well known, even before WWII, not only in Japan but also in the US due to his self-sacrificing contribution to improvement of living environments of poor Japanese people.  He continued his mission after WWII.  As General MacArthur, who led the US military in occupation of Japan after the War, was a devout Christian, Kagawa's reputation widely prevailed in the Japanese society that was afresh turning the eye to Christianity after the defeat by the Christian country America.  Even the Emperor invited Kagawa to the Imperial Palace to listen to Kagawa in person to understand his work, specifically, in 1947.  (And later in 1950, Kagawa traveled to the US for Christian activities to receive a doctorate from a certain US university.)

So, I considered anew that this issue of how Imperial Japanese soldiers conducted in China in WWII is a very sinful one.

(Nonetheless, it is also true that Chinese leaders in WWII or before WWII did not make serious efforts to avoid the war with the Empire of Japan.  Some of Chinese politicians actually welcomed military advance of the Imperial military forces deep into China, since it would make their position relatively better against their own enemies among the Chinese in the civil war that had been going on since 1890s.

Or it is also a fact that Chinese politicians and generals launched a war against Imperial Japanese troops stationed in limited cities and areas in China, believing that they could easily defeat the Japanese troops, but they failed in a disastrous scale.)

Now, I wonder if any miracles happened today except those license plate numbers of cars.

KAGAWA Toyohiko young.JPG
Toyohiko Kagawa

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Luk 8:22 Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth.