Abe Keita (Franciscan Priest)

The Osaka branch of the Korean Christian Church in Japan (KCCJ) played a central role in the movement opposing the fingerprinting during the '80s. In February 1998, when the National Youth Association of KCCJ planned a program to reflect on the Bible from the point of view of feminist theology and minority groups, their Minister Chaplain forbade the use of the Church and demanded that all gay speakers should be removed from the program and be replaced by other speakers. The Youth Association as well as those who were affected by the discriminatory remarks of the Minister, concerning homosexuals and all kinds of sexual discrimination, have already started new action to overcome discrimination.
KCCJ did not cover up the discriminatory remarks but made them public. Such a bold move to confirm the facts and to raise questions about them was done for the following reasons.
The first reason was that, KCCJ, as a Church composed of a minority group of Koreans living in Japan, had been for years fighting against discrimination and opposing fingerprinting. KCCJ could not overlook the fact that prejudices were also a reality within itself.
Again, the fact of being a minority social class that acts against discrimination and violations of human rights implies personal suffering experiences that could not be left untouched. As a result, there is a need to be knowledgeable of the prejudices faced by other minority groups and to reflect on these. The conclusions born from this are that the public should be aware of the discriminatory remarks expressed, as well as of the fact that discrimination exists. It is the desire that future evangelization efforts should also consider the issues of sexual discrimination.
Sexual discrimination and biased views of Christian churches, especially against homosexuals, although different according to each denomination, are a reality and not only sporadic cases. Even in the case of the Catholic Church it was only recently that in the booklet for Lent "Sakebi 2", that the suffering and pain experienced by homosexuals was introduced. Again, when it comes to biblical interpretations and moral theology the theory and the reflections given vary according to different Christian denominations. Because of this, prospects for the engagement taken by KCCJ are full of difficulties, but one can say that past activities concerning human rights and discrimination have fostered valuable experiences for the future.
Moreover, KCCJ's action presents a challenge to the close relationship of South Korean Christians with Confucianism, a characteristic of Korean Christianity.
First of all, Korean Christianity has been strongly influenced by Confucianism in such a way that one can say that Confucianism has been inculturated into Christianity. According to Confucianism women have the important task of giving birth to male offspring who will be the family successors, with the result that those who do not accomplish this become objects of pitiful social denial. As a result, the phenomenon movement "DINKS: Double Income No Kids" (i.e., both parents working but no kids) is, even now, strongly recognized as an absurd Western custom.
Naturally, homosexuality, that is, one way not to procreate is disclaimed. From the point of view of the influence upon the Korean Church, since Christianity in South Korea is connected with Confucian thinking, even in the field of sexuality, KCCJ, a Church made up of Koreans living in Japan, cannot recognize what Korean Christians deny. And because the mother church in South Korea does not recognize homosexuals KCCJ follows the same reasoning.
This is one of the reasons behind the problems of discrimination mentioned above, namely, the connection of Christianity and Confucianism and the consequent inculturation. But there are similarities in Christianity and in Confucianism. The person is highly valued in Confucian thinking and Christianity places a high value on love of God and toward human persons. As a result, it can be said that, the above-mentioned engagement against discrimination to stress human respect and human rights, is an important task. And since all over Asia, not only in South Korea, the Confucian mentality has a strong influence, the action taken by KCCJ could be a leading case when, in the future, similar issues occur in other countries where Confucianism is felt strong.
I would like to show my appreciation here to those who helped me to collect data for this article. I would, especially, like to thank Ms. Kim Pilsoon from KCCJ, Mr. Yoshizawa Taku of the National Christian Council in Japan Kansai Youth (NCCY) and Ms. Park Ahkija of the National Youth Association of KCCJ.
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