This Sunday (3 May), Anglicans around the world will be praying for the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK), the Anglican Church in Japan, as part of the Anglican Cycle of Prayer. Here, the Primate of Japan and Bishop of Hokkaido, Archbishop Nathaniel M Uematsu, introduces his province and highlights pointers for prayer.
In 2019, we celebrated the 160th anniversary of the start of mission of The Nippon Sei Ko Kai.
Looking back in the past 10 years, the Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011 cost many people their lives and forced many more to evacuate; even now, in the ninth year after the disaster, the situation is difficult. Subsequently, natural disasters have struck, one after another. In response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, a disaster victims’ support operation, the “Let’s Walk Together Project” began with the prayers and cooperation of people throughout the country and worldwide. Through this, we were given many new insights. Moreover, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident and radioactive contamination of the surrounding area was an incident which calls our lifestyle itself into question. Furthermore, it has become an event which leaves a large liability to the future.
On the basis of this experience, the 2012 Mission Conference of NSKK was convened with the theme of “The Dignity of Life – Toward a Mission-Oriented Community” and the “Statement on Decade of Mission and Pastoral Care of NSKK: 2012 – 2022” was issued. Even though we face various issues such as the aging of our members, declining numbers, shortage of clergy, and financial constraints, we decided that laity and clergy would proactively dedicate themselves to “careful and sincere mission and pastoral care.”
In 2013, The second Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference was convened in Okinawa, listening to the voices of people of Okinawa and those working for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula, and appealing for the solidarity of the worldwide Anglican Communion in the work of justice, peace and reconciliation.
In 2014, The 30th Anniversary Convention of Mission Collaboration between the NSKK and the Anglican Church of Korea was held on Cheju Island, and it was confirmed that, for the peace in East Asia, both Anglican Churches (Korea and Japan) would continue in collaborative mission. Youth exchanges and women’s exchanges are ongoing, and we are grateful that among the priests of the Anglican Church of Korea who work as mission collaborators within the NSKK, there are those who, having completed their term, transfer their canonical residence and work in their respective diocese.
The NSKK at its 59th General Synod in 2012, in a resolution “Seeking a World without Nuclear Power Plants,” and at the “Mission Conference of NSKK” clearly expressed its position of nuclear power generation. To embody this position, the NSKK convened the “International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World” in Sendai in May, 2019 inviting the guests from overseas. We then believed that it was highly important that the issue of nuclear power generation be considered from the perspective of the dignity of life and preservation of the divine-created environment.
Aging in Japanese society is progressing, economic disparity is becoming more pronounced, nationalistic ideologies are intensifying, violation of minority human rights has become more serious. There is also marked movement to make the US military base in Okinawa permanent and to accelerate the re-militarization of Japan, such as the revision of Article 9 of the Constitution, which renounces war. And in the world that experiences constant pain and division, we would like to reaffirm the calling which we are to fulfill.
In the 2012 Mission Conference of NSKK, The Dignity of Life – Toward a Mission – Oriented Community, Statement on Decade of Mission and Pastoral Care of NSKK: 2011-2022, it is stated:
“We humbly reflect on our own past in order for NSKK to take steps toward a newborn community of faith, in the hope and faith in God. We pray together with a deeper appreciation of the Word and Worship to express the salvation and joy brought about by Christ and to invite many people to the grace of God given through the sacrament. Our church gives its heart particularly to those people who want cure and liberation, treasures the life of everybody, and hopes to participate in the Lord’s salvation together with its parishes and all creatures.”
We wish to renew our desire to fulfill the calling entrusted to us by the Lord of reconciliation and peace. After they received the Holy Spirit, the apostles who had feared the Jews and locked themselves in the house were sent out to the world, and they began to boldly speak the gospel. We the NSKK pray to be filled with the same Holy Spirit who was poured into apostles, to trust in the God of love and mercy, and in our particular locations be set out to fulfill the mission entrusted to us by the Lord.