From the Primate of The Anglican Church in Japan
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
On the 11th of March this year Japan marks the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. We, members of the Anglican Church in Japan, gather together and pray for those who have suffered a great deal of difficulty since the disaster that totally changed their lives. We also pray for the lives lost and the devastated areas, and for their earliest recovery.
A year ago Japan’s most powerful earthquake struck the north-east coast, triggering a massive tsunami. Houses, ships and buildings were swept away by a wall of water and more than 19,000 lives were lost. The subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant with a series of explosions, set off a huge leak of radioactive substances into the surrounding environment, leaving the soil, the sea and many buildings contaminated. The residents were evacuated and even today a great number of people remain in evacuation centres and temporary shelters with fears and uncertainties in their minds.
About a month after this devastating disaster, the Anglican Church in Japan set up the “Let us walk together” project which is based in Sendai, and sought to support the victims of the disaster and offer food and supplies. This project collaborates with the supporting organisations of the Tohoku diocese and works in many areas in a wide region more than 500 kilometres around the stricken area in order to support victims and help communities recover. We are very grateful for all the prayers, donations, food and supplies, and the work of the volunteers we have received for this project.
We received a great amount in donations, not only from the Japanese Anglican dioceses and related organisations around the country, but also from the Anglican Churches all over the world. The donations have been used for the project to support the victims, and also for those who have lost their houses and for restoring the church buildings which had been destroyed or damaged.
The Great East Japan Earthquake has brought to us many issues. Amongst them there is one issue which we cannot avoid. Japan is the only country in the world which has experienced an atomic bomb attack in its history, and therefore we have always insisted on the abolition of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile we have enjoyed the comfort and convenience which nuclear power plants have provided for us. The Great East Japan Earthquake revealed completely the fragility of the safety with which we have always trusted these nuclear power plants. Now we must seek to change our lifestyle and find different energy sources.
2000 years ago Jesus faced his miserable death on the cross, and the disciples were in the depth of despair to have lost their leader. They went to Galilee, and Peter, who was a fisherman earlier in his life, led the others to go fishing with him. No fish were caught. Disappointed and helpless, they headed back to the shore. When Jesus made the fire and prepared the breakfast of fish and bread and waited for the disciples to come back to the shore, the disciples, without knowing it was Jesus, cast their nets to the side Jesus pointed and caught so many fish. Meeting Jesus again on the shore changed the disciples’ lives completely. The resurrection of Jesus revealed to them that the Lord would never desert them and from that they stood up together to make the world where every human being is brought together with the bond of love.
One year on, in the devastated towns and villages in the North-east of Japan, life is still far from a strong recovery. Even now, a great number of people are left with nowhere to go back to since their houses were contaminated by radioactive material. How do they recover after this? How do they feel peaceful again after losing their loved ones, homes and everything? It will take a number of years and much effort. We pray that God will stay near everyone in their lives and bring courage and hope to them.
As those who will follow God’s way, we choose to make up our mind once more, at this anniversary, to support the people and communities which have gone through such difficult times in this last year.
+ Nathaniel Makoto Uematsu