Yamada Keizo SJ

When I was planning to go to East Timor as a staff member of the Social Justice Institute of Sophia University to do a survey of the situation of refugees there, in September 2000, the Jesuit Provincial sounded me out: " Would you make yourself available to work there from now on, if the Province sends you there?" I answered on the spot that I was getting retired from university work in March 2003 and was ready to go after that.
That gave me an opportunity to reflect somehow on my past and present commitments. In reality, I had never thought to be a missionary in a foreign land. I thought that my vocation was to be in Japan and to send young people to other countries. I was expected, after retirement, to be responsible for the Japanese Society of Management Ethics and the World Cinference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) and other organizations. Since I was a seminarian I felt, usually, gratitude for so many missionaries that came to work in Japan from abroad and I thought that, in return, we Japanese should go to work as missionaries in other countries.
Reflecting back, in the 1960s during my seminary studies I was a member of the social apostolate committee and had the opportunity of participating in meetings all over Asia where I could learn a lot from many fellow Jesuits. In several surveys of African refugees and other Asian countries I, often, stayed for about a month, but never longer than that.
I didn't feel a doubt neither question in anxiety why, at my age, I could do this now, most probably because of my life up to now in Japan and my work and relationships of solidarity with people of other countries. So that, when I was given this mission by the Provincial it was nothing abrupt and I accepted as natural, as a continuation of the orientation and accumulation of all my experiences.
Excuse me for expressing here some of my inner sentiments. In September 2000 I was staying in East Timor for a month and went to Dare, a place located far in the mountains about 20-minute car ride from Dili. It was late at night and while I was praying under the stars with a full moon sky I could hear the voice of God telling me, "I call you here".
The fact that my obedience to the Provincial was blessed in such a way strengthened me in my consecutive visits to East Timor, in March and August 2001 and during the 10 months that I have stayed as missionary there, since May 2002. The same call was confirmed again during the month of September when I visited Aileu, Suai and Ainaro. It is amazing that, as I will mention it later, they were the places where I lived and worked during those 10 months.
When I received the call I could reconfirm inside myself the urge, "since you finished your years of formation you offered yourself to me. Come to this place with the same heart".
In reality this was the first time that all the mysteries of my former 45 years, since novitiate, were solved. As regarding the offering of myself to God, the following three points were suddenly shown to me without any causal connection.
The first one was after finishing novitiate, from the time I was about starting my studies of philosophy and theology. I was often supported by the urge: "You should study economics and make it important to establish solidarity links with Asian peoples". As a result, I was able to dedicate my time to the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, to the social apostolate committee and others, as well as to management ethics.
The second point was that I came to understand well that, in my tasks as director of the Komaba students hostel during the difficult stormy days of students' revolts, the final solution could not possibly be the result of human strength.
The third point was that, in answer to the requests of many people from Cagayan de Oro, in the island of Mindanao (Philippines), I was involved, for 23 years, in the movement against Japanese pollution companies, but looking now at it from the call I have received, I feel full of gratitude, because it was a work from above.
These three points were the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and while I was in Dare I could suddenly confirm that it was my offering to the call I had received from God. In other words, I was made understood that, all my work for evangelization in East Timor, no matter what could happen in the future, will be the prolongation of my former activities and all the offering of myself to God up to now in Japan.
If I may express this in other ways, this was the same message I gave before departing for East Timor on Easter Eve 2002, at the Audience Hall of Sophia University, quoting Jesus, after his Resurrection, when He spoke to his disciples: " Do not be afraid. Rejoice. I give you peace".
I was able to spend 10 months in East Timor in that same spirit. I will report briefly my life.

From May to August 2002, I concentrated on the study of the local Tetun language, living in the Jesuit residence of Dili. I was basically happy there, without tools of communication and in spite of many inconveniences due to lack of water, electricity, and many other difficulties. The call from God, I have mentioned before, has become the basis of my life and has supported me so deeply that, when Jesuits in East Timor told me: "You are always smiling, as if there are no worries to you", I answered back: "This is my 5th probation, you know". In other words, I spent my first and third probation in Nagatsuka (Hiroshima) and as I mentioned above my fourth one happened at Xavier's students' hostel and during my activities for 30 years against pollution. We are amazing human creatures and, once we accept everything as a trial, no matter what happens the suffering disappears.
From September to November, last year, I went through my sixth probation serving pastoral needs in Aileu parish. Fr. Jovito, the parish priest there, had been nominated Deputy Chairperson of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) and since he is very busy working in Dili I say the daily masses and preach the homilies at the church. I do all my pastoral activities in Tetun, the local language.
Let me explain two episodes. During the first days of October, at the beginning of the school year, about 1,000 students and teachers gathered at the church for mass, that was supposed to be said by Fr. Jovito but, since he was not around I had, in a hurry, to say mass and preach. I prayed with all my heart to the Holy Spirit and was able to preach fluently for 20 minutes. Right after mass some Maryknoll Sisters who speak Tetun without difficulty asked me who had helped me to prepare the homily. I answered them that with the help of the Holy Spirit I could overcome the difficulties of the Tower of Babel. Some high school students run towards me and praised me: "We understood you very well".
The other episode is a visit to a village I went sent by Fr. Jovito to say a funeral mass for a person who had died. He was a village leader, 35 years old, and a father of 2 children. During the massacre by the Indonesian army, in September 1999, he was left half-dead and finally died. The whole village gathered at the house and cried, crushed with grief together with his family. I prayed before the coffin, "Lord, give these people strength to survive". At the homily I was urged by an inner power to preach in Tetun. After the burial, the father and all the relatives, together with the head of the village came to thank me and told me that my words had strengthened them to face the future.
From last December on I went to a Jesuit Social Mission center, about 7 hour car-ride from Dili, to work with Fr. Horie Setsuro, SJ. During my stay there we had guests like Fr. Koyama Hideyuki, SJ, from Manila and two Australian Jesuit priests who stayed with us for three weeks .
I will introduce here the work we are doing from the point of view of "participatory organization", my expertise. 1. Raising pigs, goats and other domestic animals 2. Building about 44 toilets for a hamlet of 90 families. We organize groups of 5-10 families to a group and by doing work together we can make community building. We call it "community based feeding and housing". While the men work, women cook the rice we had distributed, and all eat together after work.
Finally, we are involved in a big project. It consists on a water irrigation system for 650 ha of land. This is a long-term program where the whole village is committed to work. The same as I mentioned above we provide rice and the materials as a contribution to the self-sufficient efforts of the villagers.
We help, at the same time, the 2 diocesan priests of Suai parish in the Sunday masses and preaching. Similar to Aileu, Suai parish is very big and we travel by car till faraway to say mass and to help to build Christian communities. We spend Saturdays and Sundays doing such pastoral activities.
The author with Fr. Horie at Suai's Jesuit Social Mission Center

Since my arrival in East Timor I kept at a distance from the Japanese PKF. The reasons are that, in accordance with Japan's peaceful Constitution, I am also in agreement with the Japanese Catholic Bishops' attitude of opposition to the sending of Japan's Self Defense Troops abroad.
Besides the basic issues involved, there is a different social dimension to be considered there: even recognizing that the Japanese military personnel could be sent abroad, do they serve the welfare needs of the local populations? In other words, are there possibilities for them to act as real Peace Forces?
On 5 January 2003, 2 Jesuits and 6 Christians going by car to one of the Chapels of Lailaco Church in the mountains, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Dili, saw a big truck that had fallen down 7 meters from the road. The Timorese Jesuits in Dili, convinced that only Japan's PKF could rescue the truck, asked me to request their help. I went alone to their headquarters and they pleasantly agreed to help. 13 of them went to the site of the accident with 3 large-sized crane trucks and rescued the truck, bringing it to the Jesuit residence. The whole rescue operation took them a full day.
In Suai, where we are building the irrigation system, the farmers asked me also to look for their assistance and when I approached them they pleasantly helped us. This is just an example of their contribution to the people of Timor in repairing roads, hospitals and schools. At this moment they are about to leave Suai and already finished training the local people to handle the bulldozers and other heavy machinery, they left there for their use. They have asked us to distribute to the most poor abundant food they left behind and, at present, our small house is full of food supplies.
The reason why we can perform our social mission in Suai effectively is because a team of three local people had been working for 3 years with JRS (Jesuit Refugee Service) in the past. The family of the owner of our house is also kind to us.
Needless to say, from now on with the cooperation of these three locals who are trusted by the people and by getting acquainted with the needs of the people we hope to develop our work. The two experienced priests I mentioned above have highly evaluated the three projects we are undertaking.

The author with Jesuit Provincial of Indonesia, Fr. Premiono, after the commemoration ceremony for the martyrs of Suai. In September 99, about 300 Christians gathered at Suai Church asking for shelter. All of them were killed, as well as three priests, including a young Indonesian Jesuit, Fr. Dewanto, who went out to defend the Christians. Fr. Dewanto had just been ordained as a priest a month before.

The increase in vocations is a matter of consolation for us in East Timor. Since September 99, the Jesuit Residence of Dili is the training center for the candidates that gather daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM to study.
At present, there are 12 novices in Singapore and 11 more are getting ready to go next year. Some of them will soon go to Suai with us and that will open more possibilities to our work. In Suai we usually have some free rooms for guests. Please, feel free to come to see us. We are happy to welcome you. (March 6, 2003)
East Timor has been a Portuguese colony for a long time (during the Second World War the Japanese military occupied it). In 1974 a coup d'etat occurred in Portugal and Timor declared itself free. The following November of 1975 East Timor announced its independence but, a month later, the Indonesian troops invaded the country. For 24 years, since then, Indonesia occupied East Timor. During the occupation, the Indonesian military and the East Timorese militia massacred many civilians. It is said that, out of a population of 600 thousand people, about 200 thousand were killed or died of hunger. The women especially were targets of constant violence. Right after the national elections for independence, the faction against independence provoked violent riots and a multinational army was sent to East Timor. Up to 2002, the country was governed by the United Nations Transitional Administration.
In order to seek the truth about past violent acts and pursue national reconciliation, the UN decided, 1) to restrict the investigations to the year 1999 and 2) to give Indonesia a chance. As a result, both, Indonesia and East Timor are conducting legal procedures in the courts. But, the Indonesian Court has just given out light sentences to 2 East Timorese and 1 Indonesian. East Timor sued 200 persons, among them a high-ranking Indonesian military officer, but Indonesia has disregarded it as if it was just a recommendation and continues its diplomatic pressure on the government of East Timor. On the other hand, the UN refrains from intervening, leaving the responsibility to the East Timorese government.
Although the prosecution of serious crimes committed is standstill, a national Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation established on 21 January 2002 is already working. Its goals are 1. To investigate all human rights violations committed between 1974 and 1999, 2. To seek the truth about less serious crimes (serious crimes will be reported to the Public Prosecutor) and to promote reconciliation at local levels, 3. To stop human rights violations and to assist the victims "Reception" means the will to accept again into East Timor society all those living in refugee camps of West Timor that belong to factions against independence. There are 7 national commissioners with 6 regional offices and 240 members working in 13 provinces. Their mandate is up to April 2004, but it can be extended to a further half a year.
Last month, Fr. Jovito Araujo, deputy chairperson of the Commission, visited Japan together with Fr. Yamada. During his 2-week speaking tour, Fr. Jovito offered his views on the actual situation and said, "there could not be reconciliation without justice. We need to expose the truth and seek responsibility from the point of view of the victims of violations. Nevertheless, our political and economic power is very weak and to pursue the responsibility of Indonesia without support from the UN and the International Society will mean to commit suicide". On the other hand, the use of foreign financial support (about 1 million dollars from Japan alone) has fixed purposes and can not be switched to assist the victims. In any event, East Timor as a whole is still suffering from poverty. International attention these days goes to Afghanistan North Korea and Iraq. East Timor is half forgotten and its situation remains more difficult.
Fr. Jovito declared, "The Commission has just begun to move forward. The Catholic Church that exerts a strong influence in East Timor is going through a process of changes and it should contribute to the renewal and reconciliation tasks".
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Further information on the matter can be found in the home page of the National Committee, Freedom for East Timor
(Shibata Yukinori)

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