Pray with Japan, December 31, 2023
Lectionary Selection: Luke 2:22-40
Prayers for Japan
God of Love, we pray for the ministry of the Aizu Radiation Information Center. We give thanks for the bold, prophetic witness of Terumi Kataoka and her companion advocates, who have worked for years to support the vulnerable and hold the powerful accountable in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
May you bless their efforts and make your care and mercy evident to those still hurting from the disaster today. Heal the disease, division, and distrust among the people and the damage to the environment.
We ask your blessing on all our partners in Japan and the communities they serve. May we all be encouraged by the life of Jesus and those inspired by the prophetic witness Jesus brought into our world.
Mission Moment from Japan
We usually think prophets make divine predictions about the future. But prophets in scripture also proclaimed a word of truth about the present. Whenever God’s people broke covenant or neglected to care for those in need, prophets called out for righteousness and mercy. Prophets could speak truth to power and hold a mirror up to hypocritical and unjust leaders.
The Aizu Radiation Information Center (ARIC) in northern Japan has played a prophetic role in keeping the powerful accountable in Japan. In March 2011, a triple disaster—the Great East Japan Earthquake, followed by the tsunami it created and the resulting Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown— killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
In the decade since, numerous waves of injustice have also devastated Japanese society: the geographic inequity of who received relief, the incapacity of socially marginalized to access services, the lack of justice for those sickened by radiation to receive adequate care and compensation—particularly the numerous children who got thyroid cancer.
The Japanese Government and TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric and Power Company, have been criticized for not taking sufficient responsibility to clean up or pay for services, not just in the direct aftermath of the disaster, but also to provide care for those impacted over time. For more than a decade, Terumi Kataoka, the director of ARIC, has been an outspoken advocate on behalf of victims of both the disaster and inequities in the system. Even this year, she led campaigns trying to prevent the government from releasing tons of contaminated water into the ocean.
Through organizing and lawsuits, Terumi has sought to lift up the vulnerable and hold the powers accountable. The prophets Simeon and Anna knew that with the birth of Jesus, God’s goodness and truth were made incarnate in the world, and proclaiming his justice would mean the rising of some and the falling of others.
Like Simeon and Anna, and Terumi, we too can be prophets heralding the truth of God’s love and justice made present through Jesus in our world.
Partners in Japan
- J.F. Oberlin University
- Emmaus Center
- Asian Rural Institute
- United Church of Christ in Japan
- Tohoku Gakuin University
- National Christian Council in Japan (NCCJ)
- Korean Christian Church in Japan
- Doshisha University