Intermediate Report by a Task Force    
The Jesuit Social-Apostolate Committee of the Japanese Province conducted a survey of the members of the Province on social issues in October 2004. According to the findings of answers given, three priority issues to be considered by the social apostolate of the Province were considered. 1) mental distress of modern Japanese 2) Foreign workers in Japan 3) Global marginalization. In order to tackle such important problems it was decided to form appropriate task forces. This time we would like to report on the activities of the task force on mental distress in today's Japan
The two key members of the team, Fr. Hanafusa Ryuichiro, SJ and Mr. Shibata Yukinori of Tokyo Jesuit Social Center got together in May, last year, to discuss the composition of the team. As a result, Fr. Matsui Norinao, SJ of Kojimachi Catholic Church, Sr. Nakada Kumiko of the Catholic Center of Sophia University and Mr. Iwata Tetsuo, layman of Kojimachi Church accepted to become members of the team, in order to strengthen the collaboration of parishes and schools in looking for solutions to the problem of mental distress. A new member to the team, Jesuit seminarian Mr. Yoshiba Hiroaki, was added after a follow up of the former survey done last August, where Mr. Yoshiba introduced the work of "Urakawa, Bethel Institution" that takes care of people with mental disabilities.
The team has met 5 times to discuss the direction of activities. The bottleneck has been the difficulties intrinsic to "mental suffering". This was, up to now, considered within the sphere of education and pastoral work more than with the social apostolate. In fact the majority of the responses to the questionnaire claiming mental distress as the main issue in Jesuit apostolate came from parishes and schools. Then, why does the social apostolate get involved in the issue?
Mental disorders are not only personal problems. Competition and the casting away of the weak, discrimination and economic supremacy, the whole social system and moral perversion have a significant influence in people. It might be true that social apostolate is not so much in contact with personal problems of people suffering from mental disorders. Nevertheless, the social analysis of the background of such suffering and the introduction of citizens' groups dedicated to solve them is a characteristic field of the social apostolate.
Based on all this, the members of the task force are in contact with various groups that deal with such issues and study together with them the systematic background of those problems. They decided to transmit information using the Social and Pastoral Bulletin.
Actually, the members of the team are in contact with other groups that work for the self-support of people with disabilities, assisting the victims of crimes or the rehabilitation of criminals and for people defecting from cult religions. They are considering their involvement also with people with depressions and relatives of persons that committed suicide. This way, "self-help groups", as the ones mentioned at the top of this bulletin indicate a direction to follow.
Such groups are not only helpful to people in trouble, but also promote dialogue among persons living in anxiety and are capable of exerting influence on society to solve those mental issues on the basis of a deep analysis. The methodology followed by such groups is also available to the movements of homeless in Japan or slum dwellers of third world countries, as well as to other social alternative movements to which the social apostolate is often related. Here we find a contact point between the social apostolate and mental disorders.
The following are the main areas of our activities:
Introducing self-help groups in this bulletin
Produce a basic booklet on various mental issues
Study mental disorders from the point of view of Ignatian spirituality

Since it is clear that, without the collaboration of parishes and schools and of others working in various apostolates, the task can not be accomplished we are most willing to receive your opinions and information, your questions and reflections.
(Shibata Yukinori, Jesuit Social Center)

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