[ SOCIAL AND PASTORAL BULLETIN No. 136 / Feb. 15 .2007 ]
Fr. Mitsunobu Ichiro, SJ 
Publication of a Booklet
When, last spring, there was a danger that the Diet would revise the Constitution of Japan and the Fundamental Education Law, the Jesuit Social apostolate committee, thinking that something had to be done formed a task force and published a Booklet on those issues, under the title, "Reflections on the Constitution and the Fundamental Education Law from the stand of Gospel Values." A change on the legislation of principles regarding Basic Education Law aims at revising the Constitution, an important issue covering the philosophical basis of Japanese society. I am a person living in an abstract world of theological research and education, but I stepped forward into society convinced that at this point I had to hold out. We thought that, if about 400 people could buy the Booklet we had published that would be a real success, but the reactions exceeded our expectations and the final result was 2,800 copies sold out. Of course, this is a worthless result considering the country's population, nevertheless I experienced that the issues arouse the public attention, not only of the big Catholic minority but also of ordinary citizens.
Later on, I also took part in making a public statement of concern delivered by the social committee of the Bishop's Conference and feeling the responsibility of my own contributions I participated, last December, in the demonstrations in front of the National Diet when the vote took place. It was practically my first experience to take part in a demonstration and political movement, but I felt from the bottom of my heart that this time I could not allow things go on like that, I could not compromise. I was very much encouraged by many other people like myself that had decided to take action and were also there demonstrating in front of the Diet.
A civil organization established by some university professors and public figures, called, "National Network against the Retrogressive Revision of the Fundamental Law of Education" arose spontaneously as a movement and since it organized a 'Human Chain' type of public gathering I also participated. In fact, I am a 'non-political person' but this time something had to be done. I imagine other participants did easily the same. Most probably, from now on, the participation in this Network will increase the awareness and solidarity of many citizens and this way the political involvement of people will become stronger. The experience of being close to thousands of people acting together through the network was especially good.
The Irresistible Voice of People
I want to introduce here a written contribution that pulled my sympathy, to the web-blog of the National Network I have just mentioned above.

… I arrived today to the National Diet a little after 5:00pm. A man who is usually at the entrance of the Metro distributing newspapers was announcing in a loud voice: 'The vote in the Diet will take place between 6:00 and 7:00pm.' As soon as I went into the street of the House of Councilors I felt a tension I had never experienced before. About one thousand people filling the sidewalks were incessantly shouting sprechchors like 'we oppose the revision of the laws, we oppose and enforced vote' as if they were throwing stones to the Diet. People were angry at the dirty methods used at town meetings that even high school students can understand to manipulate public opinion, at enforced votes cast in committees in the absence of the Prime Minister. Again today when the opposition parties presented a non confidence motion, the Liberal Democrats did not only shout strong boos, but also laugh mockingly at them. The musician Zaki came everyday and sung there shouting with strong voice against the retrogressive revision of the Fundamental Law of Education: 'Listen. We haven't lost the battle! Public opinion is clearly at our side! We are winning!' Representatives of the Network, like professors Miyake Akiko (Chiba University) and Ouchi Kazuhiro (Matsuyama University) spoke openly, 'Today is the first step of a new fight! We have a common understanding of how important our movement is to defend the fundamental rights of our children! All people gathered here will continue the struggle in mutual solidarity!'
When we marched towards the residence of the Prime Minister the Police shouted in a usual manner, 'put down the flags.' Usually participants in demonstrations remain quiet, but that day people shouted, 'Did we bring them to have them down? Noisy fellow shut up! The police quieted down in front of our strong reactions. I usually act gently but I couldn't avoid confronting the police, 'Bring down Abe, first.' A lady like myself, nearby, went along with me repeating, 'That's true. If they bring down Abe we will also, of course, put down our flags.'
I have been often to the Diet and spent money in this movement. Everything is a new experience to me and this time also I realized that unless I went to the Diet I could not have learned as much as I did. I will not stop, from now on, going to the Diet. Since the newspapers and mass media think nothing of people in general, I will go out and gather information by myself, without relying on them. By using the Internet I will become a provider of information. The most precious treasure I got going to the Diet was to realize that there are wonderful persons living honestly while they fight injustices."
Many have already noticed the dullness of all mass media in reacting to the revision of legislation. In fact, most of the information TV stations and newspapers refused to publish, like the irresistible voice and photos of people that gathered in front of the Diet can be viewed at the web site of the Network Video Press TV [http://vpress.la.coocan.jp/vptv.html]. The parody song "UE O MUITE ARUKO" (Let's walk looking upward) expressed clearly, I thought, the feelings of those marching in front of the Diet the day the Diet passed the Bill on the retrogressive revision of legislation. "
… Let's walk with our heads upward / Does it matter whether we cry or not? We walk shedding tears/ the night we were not alone..."

Starting from Zero
Since I participated not as a political activist but as a religious pilgrim I was wearing a white vestment like a pilgrim that read in the back, "Sophia University, Catholic Network opposing the retrogressive revision of the Fundamental Law of Education." It looked like one of those supporters of a soccer team marching and wearing the shirt of their favorite team. Although it was written network, in fact there were only 2, 3 Sisters present. I could see a few more Protestants marching and had the impression that Catholics were almost absent. After the forced vote through the Diet I realized that, as the political system stands now, no matter how morally correct your opinion is, if it is not backed by elected politicians, it is totally powerless. On the other hand, numbers result in power that holds almighty means (technocrats, police, control of mass media, etc.) to implement one's will. It appeared clearly that, in front of such power, common people are totally powerless and made scattered in all directions. That made me to reflect that, in order to check on the authorities, regarding these issues and to bring together the irresistible cries of citizens there was a need of forming some flexible group and establish a network.
Development work in war-torn Cambodia has been Thus, after a dark day of feeling the impact of defeat I also rose up, not exactly as Jesus resurrected, and made a decision. I decided to answer the voice of honest citizens, unable to raise their voices. Concretely,
[1] To continue the re-edition of the Booklet on the retrogressive revision of the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education
[2] To concentrate on information exchanges and communication by building a web site and blog, due to the actual importance of networking,
[3] To form study groups taken up by Jesuit Services, a Jesuit-sponsored NGO under the able leadership of Sister Denise Coughlan, which provides direct assistance to the victims of anti-personnel landmines.

Devil Forces Dominating this World
Most probably, the ultimate goal of the main supporters of Abe’s administration, within the frame of globalization and the free market system, is to let Japan continue riding the champion horses at unison with the USA. Following the example of a horse race, the introduction of nationalism is an unnatural way of stepping on the brakes while accelerating. In other words, imposing from above neo-liberalism, giving orders that everybody (Army included) should follow, forcefully grouping everybody so that unskillful labor can be assured and thus tracing the population. In conclusion, the clear goal of those involved in a power and money game with the USA is to kill Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. They want to increase their profits all over the world backed by military presence. If they move ahead with diplomatic and financial policies swinging around financial and military power, the poor and the powerless will certainly be hit. And besides that, in case they act unreasonably, tensions and unrest, violent wars are going to spread. Is not this the actual world where we live?
As Ignatius remarks in the Spiritual Exercises, the strategy of the devil is simple: riches (or "this is mine") to honor and to pride, to control others for one's aims. By these steps, the evil one leads us skillfully to all other vices. Actually, those in power make efforts to defend themselves by strengthening the present international systems and prepare schemes by which they can dominate over others. Such persons manifest childish and selfish expressions like "beautiful country," but such naivety is just a political cold trick unable to motivate others to act. On top of it, this destroys human social values.
To the Cross with Christ
In the case of Christ, the Jewish religious power in combination with politics and people's solidarity became one devil's power that destroyed him. Leaders, oppressors and people, authority and power, short-lived curiosity had reached an absolute level, but this was not really what mattered, on the contrary, a Jesus that worshipped God, the compassionate Father, was so provocative that had to be handled to death.
When I observe the image of Abe, closing his ears to the voices of reason and common sense and, like a loyal slave, pushing through the revision of the Constitution and forcing the vote on the Fundamental Law of Education, as well as the inactivity of Japanese society that allows this situation, I cannot but remember the historical background when the Pacific War begun as a result of the prewar totalitarian nationalism and the souls of millions of people that were killed under tremendous suffering. Confronted with the reality of those who died, not because of a compassionate God, but due to their distorted dreams and values as absolute, we Christians, following the example of Christ should clearly raise our voices shouting, "Stop all that non-sense."

Since I started these activities I have become fully strengthened and consoled. This is because, being aware of the lies surrounding us, it is possible to establish an alive dialogue with many who are conscious that something must be done. And, precisely, when that dialogue resounds prayers for Christian unity in Christ solidify. Is not the real "Church" a human dialogue of living people that count for nothing at the basis of the world? From the eyes of those who are always in the limelight, such persons are hidden in small places and, some have maybe already been killed but they were people living with a real faith. The really suffering, the honest poor people lived quietly without personal contacts with others and the enlightened places they left behind could be called "churches."
Almost nobody criticized our Booklet. A person that does not really appreciate the most important value, the compassion of God, knows well his/her own lies and, as a result, feels powerless in front of the truth. I realized that, in fact, when one feels afraid to confront his own image with the true facts, runs after violent terrorism always hiding in the shadow. The bible teaches us to say clearly "Yes" to the truth and "No" to absurd things. When one has to get angry if, out of fear and because of pressure, resigns oneself to demands, such an attitude is totally unrelated to the freedom that comes from following the advice of Christ, "Do not be afraid, I am with you." I experienced the need to build a Japanese society that is convinced that, there is not such a thing like inside oppression being the cause of a bullying predisposition so dominant in Japan now.
In order to implement my decision to follow the issues mentioned above I started a Blog under the name "kenkyokatoren" (Catholic Network to defend the Constitution and the Fundamental Law of Education) (http://kenkyokatoren.seesaa.net/). From now on, the Diet will start passing new legislation and the Education Administration will send notifications that do not have anything to do with the spirit of the Constitution. I would like to gather prayers so that many good-will people act to force back such moves.
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