Jesuit Social Center
The article printed in the last "Bulletin" of Mr. Tanaka, a prisoner with a death sentence, provoked several reactions from our readers. As a result of it, several places around the country have shown interest in holding "life painting exhibitions". On top of that, the Catholic Bishops' Conference is about to publish an official document, called "a Look to Life" in which the Japanese Bishops appeal for the abolition of the death sentence.

Taking profit from these new developments our Jesuit social center plans to organize an Ecumenical Prayer Meeting for the abolition of the death sentence, together with Protestant and Buddhist groups. The event will take place at unison with the "Life Painting Exhibition" that will be held at Sophia University in June 2001. From now on, several issues of this Bulletin will bring articles about the death penalty.
Program of future "Life Painting Exhibitions" Program of main Events
  1. Sophia University in June 2001. Organized by the Catholic Center
  2. Elisabeth University of Music (around June 2001)
  3. Sophia 2 year College (around June 2001)
  4. Sacred Heart University (around June 2001)
  5. Yamaguchi Catholic Church
  6. Hiroshima Gakuin
  7. Taisei Gakuen (September 2001)
  8. Yamaguchi Xavier High School (December 2001)
  9. Sacred Heart Sisters Annual Meeting (December 2000)
  1. Symposium on the Death Sentence System. Sponsored by the Catholic Center at Sophia University's Auditorium, in June 2001.
  2. Ecumenical Prayer Meeting in June 2001, organized by Jesuit Social Center, Nihon Christian Churches and AYUS (Buddhist International Cooperation Network)
  3. In order to prepare the "Life Painting Exhibition" there will be study sessions run by Fr. Juan Masia in the Catholic Center. Fr. Masia has cooperated in the drafting of the Japanese Bishops' document "A Look to Life.
January 20, 2001, Sister Helen Prejean, the American sister who became model of the American movie "Dead Man Walking" will visit Japan. Her work of counseling prisoners with death sentences has convinced her to appeal against the systems of death sentence. Maybe we can make use of her visit.
We are waiting for the publication of the Japanese Bishops document on life and would like to make use of the message to abolish the death sentence, so that Christian communities realize the importance of such a message. Our Bulletin will make efforts so that the Catholic views on the death sentence are also transmitted to the Japanese general public.
The "Life Painting Exhibitions" will be a good opportunity to deepen the respect for life and to reflect on the realities of sin and conversion. We would be grateful if the articles published in this Bulletin could serve that purpose. If readers of the Bulletin find possibilities of holding the Exhibition, please, feel free to call on us. When the time comes to prepare the Ecumenical Prayer Meeting we would welcome those who would like to help in its preparations.
After a year from the last executions, 3 prisoners with a death sentence were executed November 30. In the debate on the continuation or abolition of the death penalty there are many difficult issues involved, like ethical and religious values, feelings of the victims and the repentance of the criminals. The background for the last executions is that the State wants to affirm its right to execute the criminals, because they are with a death sentence. The State uses its power, as far as it can and without any hesitation. Ministers of Justice make always the statement that, to order an execution is their official obligation and thus they are bounded to do that. Do they reflect seriously on the ethical issues involving death sentence? One more important dimension in the debate on death sentence is "No matter reasons given, is it valid to give states the right to usurp human lives?" There is a need to meditate on Christ's words "do not judge others".
(Shibata Yukinori)