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.

"thy heart is not right in the sight of God" - The Closest Official to the Emperor

Along a National Road around Tokyo

The Closest Official to the Emperor

Sukemasa Irie (1905-1985) was not an ordinary man.  He and his family had been so close to Emperor Showa (1901-1989) of Japan.  Irie himself was the closest official to Emperor Showa.

Irie's parental family line could be traced back in history to the Fujiwara clan or Michizane Fujiwara, one of the most influential noblemen 1000 years ago whose daughters became empresses of three emperors.  Specifically, the Irie family was a branch house of the Reizei house, notable for its mastership in 31-syllable Japanese poem called waka.

Irie's mother was a niece of the biological mother of the father of Emperor Showa, that is, Emperor Taisho who was the son of Meiji Emperor.  Irie's father, a viscount, served the Imperial Family as the grand chamberlain for the crown prince (who later ascended to Emperor Taisho) and so on.

So, it was natural that Sukemasa Irie became professor in Gakushyuin University (originally founded for education of children of imperial families and the noble class) after graduating from the literature department of the Imperial University of Tokyo.  And it was more natural that he soon quit the academic job to work in the Imperial Household Ministry in 1934.  Since then Irie had been close to Emperor Showa through the long period of time before, during, and after WWII.  He wrote many books about his experiences in the Imperial Palace and his private life.

Immediately after WWII, when Irie was walking around his house in Tokyo, a jeep of US military stopped before him.  An American officer asked Irie how to get to Sophia University, a Catholic university in Tokyo.  Irie tried to tell the way, speaking English.  But as it was somewhat complicated, he thought it would be easier to guide the jeep, taking a ride on it.  So, after some driving through streets of Tokyo still full of air-bombed buildings and debris, the US jeep could reach the University.

The American officer was so thankful that he asked Irie whether he was a professor of the University.  Irie could not reveal that he was an official close to the Imperial House.  He said that he had been a professor of another university.  The US officer showed gladly his appreciation again, since Irie was not an ordinary man as he thought.

After this episode, Irie thought if he had been able to speak English better at the time, he might have been more respected.

Later, when Japan was still under occupation of the US military led by General MacArthur, the Emperor spent some days in an Imperial villa in Hayama Town, west of Tokyo Bay.

One day, the Empress went out to visit some war victims in another town with many officials and attendants.  Meanwhile, the Emperor decided to take a walk on the shore before the villa.  But, as most of officials and caretakers of the Imperial Family had gone with the Empress, only Irie and a policeman followed the Emperor.

When the three men were strolling around the coast line of Sagami Bay, where the Emperor sometimes conducted biological study, there appeared two young American soldiers with a camera.  They were excited to happen to meet the Japanese emperor.  They asked the Emperor whether they could take pictures of him.  To a surprise to Irie, the Emperor approved the unprecedented wild action.  But the soldiers asked further to have each of them stand by the Emperor to be taken in pictures.  Irie thought it was too much, shouting, "Only, Emperor, Alone!"  The two American soldiers understood the word, and yet gladly photographed the Emperor alone in the film.

After this episode, Irie wondered if his English had been so correct.

Decades later, Sukemasa Irie, grand chamberlain, wrote that speaking a foreign language was making a fool of oneself.  His son could not speak English much better than his father, but he had some American friends and traveled to America sometimes.  It must be because, Irie thought, his son was more shameless than his father.

Incidentally, it is reportedly said that Emperor Showa had a reasonable level of ability in English and French as he was also a biologist, though an interpreter was always present when the Emperor met with General MacArthur in person.

Emperor Showa (center), Sukemasa Irie (right), and other high-ranking officials (left) of the Imperial Household Agency in 1984

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Act 8:20 But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.
Act 8:21 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Noah builded an altar unto the LORD" - Meiji Emperor and Hirobumi Ito

A Gate of Imperial Palace Plaza (old Edo Castle of Tokugawa shogun), Tokyo

Meiji Emperor and Hirobumi Ito

Early in the morning of February 4, 1904, the Emperor of Japan called Hirubumi Ito.

At the time, the Imperial Government had to decide whether it should venture into war against the Russian Empire or accept expansion of aggressive Russian influences on Manchuria, North China, the Korean Peninsula, and other regions around the Sea of Japan, southeast of Siberia.  The war, if any, would be a very risky one for the Empire of Japan just in the middle of the process of its industrial revolution.  And on the very day, a supreme conference in the presence of the Emperor was to be held in the Imperial Palace, Tokyo.

Hirobumi Ito, who was then not only Chairman of the Privy Council but also the politician most trusted by the Emperor, came to curt. The Emperor wearing night clothes invited Ito into his private room. Such an invitation had never happened before; no political leaders and dignitaries as well as other people in high positions in the Empire never entered the private space of the Emperor in the Imperial Palace.  It was unprecedented.  And the Emperor just put on night clothes with the worn-out look.

Hirobumi Ito was a very special politician.  He was the unparalleled successor of the Three Great Heroes of the Meiji Restoration (Saigo, Okubo, and Kido) that had brought the imperial court back to political power through a civil war against the Tokugawa samurai regime in 1868.  Though all these Heroes had been gone due to another civil war, an assassination, and fatal illness), Ito continued to make his career to become the first prime minister of Japan in 1885.

Ito was so much trusted by the Emperor who had been just a teenager when the Meiji Restoration was carried out by the Three Great Heroes of Meiji and other radical but pro-imperial samurais, including Hirobumi Ito.  The young Emperor had been educated by ex-samurais who took over power from the Tokugawa shogun.  But old ex-samurais had gone away or became so old.  Now, Hirobumi Ito played a role of a kind of senior friend of the Emperor.  While other ministers and politicians never sat before the Emperor when they saw him in person, only Ito casually seated himself into a chair.  Indeed, it was Hirobumi Ito who had contributed to promulgation of the Constitution of the Imperial Japan in 1989, setting the foundation of the Empire and the legal basis of the position of the Emperor.    

The Emperor asked Ito how he thought about the coming war with the Russian Empire.  He wanted an honest opinion from trustworthy Ito prior to the supreme conference scheduled on the day.  The Emperor, originally having nothing to do with samurai warrior tradition, had been so much bothered about the possible war with Russia.  The Russian Empire had the world largest army and the mighty navy; how could the Empire of Japan whose modernization had started just 25 years ago fight the Russian Empire on equal terms?

Ito answered, "There is a possibility that our country will face a critical result.  In that case, your majesty has to prepare to meet your fate (you might be requested to step down from the imperial throne if the Empire of Japan should be defeated)."

In the conference, the Emperor expressed his strong concern.  He proposed that he would directly contact to the Russian Emperor as both the governments could not find a solution for peace.  The Emperor worried that many Japanese soldiers would be killed if the outbreak of war had been unavoidable.   But, top politicians, ministers and generals who attended the conference suggested that no such efforts would be too late.  The  empire was in an imminently dangerous situation, since no diplomatic negotiations had been successful while Russians looked like being determined to attack the imperial troops stationed in the Korean Peninsula that had been under strong control of the Imperial Japan for years.

Finally, Meiji Emperor under heavy tension consented to opening war with the Russian Empire.  Everybody in the room felt huge pressure in their silence.  But Ito said, "Now that his majesty has made a great decision, I will also work hard as a young samurai, which I was decades ago, neglecting my appearance and dress (as if I had been again in the war for the Meiji Restoration)."  To Ito's banter, every war leader in the supreme conference in the Imperial Palace started to laugh as they knew well Ito's past, a young and dangerous samurai without much care about his dress.

After the conference, Ito immediately sent a special envoy to the US, since it was only America that could play the role of mediator when the time came to make a truce with the Russian military.  (The UK was then allied with the Empire of Japan based on the Anglo-Japanese Alliance, providing some indirect support for Tokyo.)  Hirobumi Ito with rich international experiences knew well that the Empire of Japan could fight a full-scale war with the Russian Empire only for a few years.  Tokyo needed a strong foreign friend who would help settle the war in favor of Japan eventually.

The Japanese-Russo War was fought between 1904 and 1905.  The Empire of Japan could hold a dominant position as its army drove Russian troops from areas near the Korean Peninsula and South Manchuria and its navy destroyed the Russian fleet around the Tsushima Straits and the Sea of Japan.  US President Theodore Roosevelt helped Japan in the post-war negotiations held in Portsmouth, Virginia.  Roosevelt was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his effort in helping the Empire of Japan and the Russian Empire conclude the Portsmouth Peace Treaty.

Incidentally, Hirobumi Ito was assassinated in Manchuria in 1909 by a Korean terrorist.  Meiji Emperor died in 1912.

Indeed, a century ago, Japan was led by ex-samurai politicians and an emperor who was just a teenager when the samurai regime fell paving the way for Westernization and at the same time restoration of imperial authority in the Japanese society.  The tragic and glorious 20th century of Japan began with such figures, good or bad.


イメージ 1
Meiji Emperor

Hirobumi Ito

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Gen 8:20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
Gen 8:21 And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"the five loaves among five thousand" - Hidden Foods and Hidden Power

Entrances to Shinto Shrines around Tokyo

Hidden Foods and Hidden Power

When thousands of people came to a small mountain to hear Christ Jesus preaching, most of them secretly brought bread and other foods with them in case that this event should take a long time.

But as they were somewhat selfish without big love to share their foods with other people, they hid their foods in their clothes, bags, or the like.  However, Christ Jesus could see their minds and their foods hidden so well, so that He instructed His disciples to circulate baskets in which He expected those people to honestly deliver part of their hidden foods in order to help those who had actually little or no foods.

It was neither a trick nor a magic.

In a similar way, Greece can be saved if all the Greeks deliver money they are hiding to help poor neighbors in the country.

In a similar way, the world can be saved if all the human beings deliver money they are hiding to help poor people in the world.

This issue is also related to power of a mass of people.  If 12 people combine their power and ability to a certain direction, we can expect a great result.  But if 12 people randomly deliver their power canceling effect of their respective power, we can expect no great result.

Another important point is that these lessons can even apply to a single man.

If one man continues to hide his foods, he will starve to death.  If one man continues to hide his true power and ability, he cannot achieve a great thing.  But to take out his power and ability fully with confidence, he needs guidance.  And the best guidance is the teaching of Christ Jesus.

It also tells why the US has succeeded in becoming the most successful country in the world.  Its basic culture led by Christianity (and Judaism) with less restriction and negative traditions of types often observed in Europe under strong influences of the Vatican has made it easier for each American to deliver their power and ability fully.  And Americans have had a common direction, the American Dream.  To this direction, they all have contributed their efforts in building and developing a nation, America.  This is the key to their success.

So, any poor countries in the world can succeed in building successful society if they understand this episode in the Bible and apply this teaching of Christ Jesus.

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Mar 8:19 When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.

Mar 8:20 And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.

"for whosoever hath, to him shall be given" - Given More or Deprived More

Around the Imperial Palace, Tokyo

Given More or Deprived More

Christ Jesus said: For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.

If two seeds are sown to one plot and both spring forth, there can be some differences between them.  One shoot might grow more correctly to the sky or the heaven, while another may be biased to the west, the east, and so on.  If nutrition in the ground is limited, the nature would allow the shoot correctly directed to the heaven to take more nutrition than another.  Even nutrient elements around the shoot looking to other direction than the heaven might be taken by the straight one.

However, this can apply to worldly mechanisms and systems.  The more you have faith in any organization where you belong, the more you are given by the management of the organization.  If you have less faith in business of the organization, you would be deprived of high salary and higher status.

The reason is that any system is purposely-operated.  It pursues more efficiency and higher results.  To achieve this goal, it has to concentrate its resources to hopeful members even by taking away some having been allocated to lazy members and giving them to the hopeful.

Looking back at evolution of living things on this earth, every species has developed following this rule.  The species today we can see have been all given chances to survive and grow according to their faithfulness to required conditions in given environments in the nature.  The more a species is faithful to environmental conditions and changes, the more it has a chance of survival and evolution.

Now, we can understand why Judaists, Christians, and Muslims have survived to date through long history.  They had more what was requested by God; accordingly they were given more chances of survival.

Taking both applications of this teaching of Christ Jesus to the material world and the spiritual world, we can understand why it is said in some prophecies:
In the end of the world, the rich would become richer, while the poor become poorer.
And, the righteous become more righteous, while the evil become more evil.

What is happening in the Middle East and the Islamic world looks like an example of embodiment of these prophecies.

Or the Greeks and African Americans might understand the teaching of Christ Jesus better than rich Europeans and Americans.

Conversely, we can expect that there are extremely pious Muslims and Christians around the Middle East, Greece, and African-America populated streets in the US.

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Luk 8:18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

Monday, August 17, 2015

"the testimony of two men is true" - The Kingdom of Heaven and the End of the World

Around Tokyo

The Kingdom of Heaven and the End of the World

Christ Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field.  It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
The Kingdom of Heaven is a kind of spiritual entity.  But we often consider it in analogy with a material entity.  And Christ Jesus must have known that we do so.

From a historical point of view, it was Christ Jesus that took and sowed a small seed in this world 2000 years ago.  And as he preached, the Kingdom of Heaven started from one man, Christ Jesus, to cover the whole world today, if you believe the teaching of Christ is the foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Influences of Christ Jesus can be seen in many fields of human activities in the world, including literature and art.

But, Christ Jesus also predicted the end of the world coming with some horrible tragedies.  Then, what is the relationship between the Kingdom of Heaven and the end of the world?  Does it mean that even if our souls come to live in the Kingdom of Heaven, our physical bodies are destined for experiencing the end of the material world?

The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to the spiritual sphere, but the concept of the end of the world is related to this material world.  They might coexist, somewhat overlapping with each other through our real existence across the spiritual and material worlds.

Another issue of the Kingdom of Heaven is as to whether this concept can apply to other religions, such as Judaism and Islam.

Probably, Muslims enter the Kingdom of God through their religion Islam; Judaists enter the Kingdom of God through their religion Judaism; and Christians enter the Kingdom of God through their religion Christianity.  They will live in the world where the only religion in it is called the Kingdom of God.  Truly, if Muslims, Judaists, and Christians all reach their destination, the Kingdom of God, through their respective religions, they don't need their own religions any more.

Indeed, Muslims in the Kingdom of Heaven would say, "We were followers of Islam before, but now we are residents in the Kingdom of Heaven"; Judaists in the Kingdom of Heaven would say, "We were members of Judaism before, but now we are members in the Kingdom of Heaven"; and Christians in the Kingdom of Heaven would say, "We were members of Christianlty before, but now we are residents in the Kingdom of Heaven."

However, meanwhile this material world, including the communities of Muslims, Judaists, and Christians, might all face the end.

In that case, the whole world might be put into devastating confusion and catastrophe.  In the worst case, terrorists might use advanced weapons of mass destruction in Europe, the Middle East, North America, and so on, resulting in the fall of this modern civilization that has been built in these 2000 years after the emergence of Christ Jesus.

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Joh 8:17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

"baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" - A Cup of Cold Water

Rice Paddy Fields around Tokyo

A Cup of Cold Water

The most popular Japanese instrumental rock guitarist has been Takeshi Terauchi in these decades.
Takeshi Terauchi (1939- ), also known as Terry, is a Japanese instrumental rock guitarist. His preferred guitar is a White Mosrite. His guitar sound is characterized by frenetic picking, heavy use of tremolo picking and frequent use of his guitars vibrato arm. 
Terauchi started his career playing rhythm guitar for a country and Western act "Jimmy Tokita and The Mountain Playboys", which had bassist Chosuke Ikariya. In 1962 he formed his first group, The Blue Jeans. However, in 1966 he left the group and formed The Bunnys with whom he played. In May 1967, he also established his own company named "Teraon". He won the "arrangement award" with the song "Let's Go Unmei" at the 9th Japan Record Awards in 1967. He left the Bunnys in 1968. He reformed the Blue Jeans in 1969 and the band has been active until today.
Terauchi was born in a middle-class family and graduated from a university where he learnt electric engineering.  However he loved to play the guitar and joined a band that was performing in US military bases around Tokyo, which was a kind of common process of many Japanese musicians who succeeded in their careers after WWII.

One thing unique about Terauchi was his knowledge about electricity, so that he contributed to development of  electronic musical instruments in Japan, while he was making his career as an electric guitar player and a band leader.

Another unique aspect of Terauchi is that he has given a performance in high schools to deepen understanding of electric-guitar based music among students, teachers, parents, and so on.

Once the Japanese public was very critical about high-school students who played electric guitars.  Parents, teachers, and the public were afraid that students enchanted by electric guitar playing might be easily led to delinquency.  However, young people loved rock music and electric guitar sounds, since some American bands, such as the Ventures, visited Japan in early 1960s to introduce such music as a kind of new culture to Japanese youths.

So, Terauchi started to visit and play in high schools. And Terauchi Takeshi and The Blue Jeans have reportedly played in 1,500 high schools in Japan to date, though it is unknown how much the concert fee is.

However when he first launched this project, it did not look like hopeful.  Terauch visited, at the first onset, 100 high schools to offer and explain the high school concert.  But only three of them treated the offer seriously, and offered Terauchi, a leading guitarist in Japan, a cup of tea in their meeting.  No other high school management presented hospitality to the famous rock guitarist as they were afraid of a bad influence commercial entertainers would have on their students.  

It reminds me of a teaching by Christ Jesus: Those who gave a cup of cooled water to each of these tiny people would receive reward from God.

(Refer to for Takeuchi's performance.)

Another situation that reminds me of the Christ's teaching was that those hit by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1941 and lied down on the street asked others walking by to give them a cup of water, since they were suffering so much with burns.  And, there were some people who really gave them water from their drinking flasks to those victims under the hot sun in August 1941.

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Act 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:
Act 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)
Act 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.