Japan’s churches call for end to racial discrimination

By Gavin Drake
Posted Dec 3, 2015

[Anglican Communion News Service] Representatives from 20 Japanese churches, including the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK – the Anglican Episcopal Church in Japan), have called on the Japanese government to “eliminate racial discrimination” in the country and to introduce laws to “outlaw hate speech and other forms of discrimination.” They make the call with a confession that, in the past, the churches “stood aside and watched as minorities suffered under the violence of hate speech.”

The churches also call on the government to “thoroughly inculcate a fair-minded historical awareness that is clearly conscious of war responsibilities” and to reflect this in school education “in order to continue peaceful dialogue with neighbouring nations”

In addition, they are calling on the government to “guarantee the right of education to minorities, beginning with the (equitable) provision of no-cost education for Korean high schools, and systematize multicultural education,” in order to “eliminate prejudice and discrimination toward minorities.”

The demands were made in a communiqué issued after the 3rd International Conference on Minority Issues and Mission held at the end of November at the Korean YMCA in Tokyo.

The Anglican Church of Korea was one of 20 overseas partner churches and organizations who also took part in the conference.

“We believe that hosting this conference is one of the constructive ways for our church to respond to the call for mission given to us by God,” the Revd Kim Byungho, general secretary of the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCJJ), which hosted the conference, said. “Many conflicts in today’s world stem from the discriminative policies and actions toward minorities, and specifically in Japan there is growing concern around the increasing militarization of Japan which has yet to fully acknowledge its past crimes and make necessary actions to amend the wounds.

“We hope this conference will provide an opportunity for the churches in Japan and the world to share our common concerns and build bridges of solidarity so that minority communities in Japan can fully realize and enjoy the fullness of life as citizens with equal rights, and it is the desire of the KCCJ to contribute to this ultimate goal.”

The KCCJ organised the conference because of “the alarming rise of hate speech against the Korean ethnic community in Japan” at a time when “discriminatory hate crimes against ethnic and racial minorities are on the rise in different parts of the world.”

“It is clear that historical revisionism that tries to obliterate historical awareness of Japan’s colonial rule, war and war responsibility, and of its victimizing past of violations against human dignity, serves to legitimize hate speech,” the churches say in their communiqué. “In order to root out hate speech and build a society in which human dignity and equality are realized, it is imperative that the state and society of Japan examine historical facts again, and establish a legal framework for the protection of human rights, beginning with a law to prohibit racial discrimination.”

In the communiqué, the churches “confirmed that the Christian Church must seek the path of peace that clearly opposes the path toward armament and war, and the path toward construction of an inclusive society in which peace and welfare are shared with all people, and that for this we must hear the call of Jesus Christ in the cries of minorities. . .

“Today, in this world of growing intolerance, segmentation of society is proceeding by the abandonment of the weak. Thereby the lives and dignity of many people are being seriously injured through the rise of hate and conflict. We Christians are filled with a strong sense of crisis at these things.

“Today, amid rapid advances in the globalization of information and wealth, many societies are in crisis and at risk of devastation by hate-filled violence. In this world where a storm of racism and xenophobia spreads together with globalization, today’s Christian Church must search for a mission path that resists hate and spreads the tent of inclusivity in order to restore a whole humanity in God’s image.

“We are able to know from the Bible that God showed us the way to break the chain of hate and lead us toward reconciliation, through the presence of sojourners (foreigners and immigrants). To welcome in sojourners, or to place one-self in the position of a stranger, is necessary in order to have fear and anger changed into the hope for inclusivity, and for God’s blessing to be realized in this world.

“The Christian Church must profess to today’s society that the love of neighbour, shown to us by Jesus Christ, is the true power that overcomes human enmity and hate. The Churches of Japan confess that we stood aside and watched as minorities suffered under the violence of hate speech. We resolve to engage these issues and seek the realisation of peace and inclusive society on this earth, by accepting this as the call of Gospel mission entrusted to us as Christians living in this time.”