Prime Minster Aso to Meet Pope Benedict

26 06 2009

If you have been following along since March Archbishop Mamberti  had released a statement saying that if the two were to meet then PM Aso might invite the pope to come to Japan.  What a strange thing to say if plans weren’t already in the making.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso will meet with Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City on July 7, sources close to the meeting said Wednesday.

The first meeting between a pope and a Japanese prime minister since 1999 will occur as Aso, a Catholic, has been hoping to meet the pope when he attends the Group of Eight summit to be held in Italy from July 8, said the sources in Rome.

Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican’s foreign minister, visited Japan in March and met with Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone and other Japanese officials. Mamberti is the first secretary for relations with states of the Holy See to have visited Japan.

article here

Now I just wait for the news story that hopefully announces the pope`s official visit here.  😀


Japanese Bishops vs Jury Duty

18 06 2009

or as it is called here being a lay judge or citizen judge 0_O.  At any rate the Japanese bishops have interpreted (for right or wrong) the Code of Canon Law to mean that all Catholic bishops, priests, and religious here must not serve on a jury even if it means they are penalized!  First the article

TOKYO, June 18 (AP) – (Kyodo)—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan on Thursday urged clergy not to become citizen judges since doing so may go against the canon law of the Roman Catholic Church, its officials said.

MAY  go against not DOES  go against.

The Code of Canon Law stipulates that clerics are forbidden to assume duties that entail participation in the exercise of civil power.

Does it?  Let`s check!

§3. Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power. source

I am  not a canon lawyer so I can only wonder if being a juror is a type of public office.  My own guess though is that the term public office usually means civil servant such as being a city councilman or mayor, and not a juror.

The bishops’ conference is requiring around 8,000 Catholic bishops, priests and monks in Japan not to comply with subpoenas to serve as citizen judges even if their action results in a fine, according to the officials.

“We expect our clerics to fulfill their religious obligations by refraining from public duties associated with secular authorities,” an organization official said.

Wow.  What about render unto Caesar?

Some 450,000 church members are to be allowed to decide whether to serve as lay judges based on their conscience, with the bishops’ conference supporting them if on religious grounds they choose not to serve in cases where a death sentence may be handed down.

In the lay judge system that started last month, six citizen judges join three professional judges in examining serious criminal cases, such as murder, and deciding upon sentencing.

There is so much to this such as the correct interpretation of the CCL and the whole issue of a type of jury system being introduced here.  I did find precedence though of a bishop in the United States serving on a jury and it seems he didnt get in trouble.

Bishop Zubik answers the call to jury duty

Friday, June 27, 2008
By Gabrielle Banks, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The bishop raised his right hand yesterday, and, along with 13 fellow jurors, swore “by almighty God, the searcher of all hearts” to render a true verdict.

Thus began Bishop David Zubik’s first day serving on an Allegheny County jury and fulfilling what Common Pleas Judge Kathleen A. Durkin reminded the panel of nine women and five men was “one of the most solemn duties of citizenship”: to sit in judgment of a fellow citizen.

Mr. Knorr said “it was a slam dunk to accept [the bishop] as a juror” because of his vast understanding of the human experience, but added, “I think its important to treat him as another juror.” In a biblical reference to abiding by one’s lay duties, he said Bishop Zubik “is rendering to Caesar today.”

His spokesman, Rev. Ronald P. Lengwin, said although he has a packed schedule, the bishop is “very pleased he was not dismissed” from duty. He “thinks that it’s a privilege to serve on the jury” and “contribute to the well being of the community.”

Tadpole Plague

17 06 2009

Adding to a growing mystery over the nationwide spotting of dead tadpoles on ground distinct from their habitats, a woman in Miyagi Prefecture has witnessed them falling from the sky, local officials and residents said Wednesday.

Since more than 100 dead tadpoles were found earlier this month in Ishikawa Prefecture, followed by similar phenomena in Shizuoka, Hiroshima and Iwate prefectures, the cause has remained unknown and people have speculated they might have fallen from the sky after being sucked up by waterspouts or carried by birds.

full article

All I can say is if the rivers turn to blood and all the livestock dies Im leaving! Im not waiting for the hail mixed with fire to fall.

It`s Crazy Cult Week in Japan

12 06 2009

This time it is the Moonies ripping people off.

Police on Thursday arrested the president and six other members of a Tokyo seal and nameplate retailer on suspicion of pressuring people into buying seals using manipulative sales techniques.

The seven arrested suspects are believed to be members of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity (Unification Church), and in their investigation police searched the residences of Unification Church leaders believed to have been involved in operation of Shinsei.

Police accuse the members of approaching five women aged between their 30s and 60s around JR Shibuya Station in Tokyo between October 2007 and February this year, and asking if they would be willing to receive an evaluation of their names. They allegedly made the women feel uneasy by telling them such things as that a curse on their ancestors was affecting their lives, and that bad things would happen to them if they didn’t purchase a personal seal. They allegedly sold the women seals for between 160,000 and 1.2 million yen.

Full article is here.

Tax Dodging Fake Cult

10 06 2009


A religious corporation that operates “love hotels” concealed 1.4 billion yen in income over seven years through February 2008 as tax-exempt donations from amorous couples, sources said.

The Kanto-Shinetsu Regional Taxation Bureau has ordered Uchu Shinri Gakkai (Space truth academic society) to pay 300 million yen in back taxes and penalties.

No their name doesn’t sound suspicious at all! Are they waiting to go to the planet Blisstonia too?

Uchu Shinri Gakkai appears to be a religious organization in name only. The vegetable company apparently used the name of Uchu Shinri Gakkai to win tax breaks offered to religious groups, including tax exemptions on donations.

The full article is here.

There is a photo with the article of the entrance to one of the hotels but all you can see is the word Ox.  From what I saw on tv the full name is Hotel Ox, one of the many oddly amusing names for love hotels.

At the end of the article is this:

According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, 182,868 religious corporations were registered in Japan as of the end of 2006.

Wow I had no idea there were so many!  The Catholic church would be registered as one and each Protestant denomination would have to register separately as well such as the Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists etc but I doubt they number in the hundreds let alone thousands and guess that the vast majority of those registered are Buddhist and Shinto groups.  I know there are several main branches of each but still that leaves a lot groups left over.  I wonder how many more shady tax evading companies are hidden in that total?!


4 06 2009


I took this photo on my cellphone while walking through JR Shimbashi station in Tokyo last week.  This is far from the first time I`ve seen homeless here but it is the first time I decided to try and take a picture.  There were four men, three sitting along the wall just like this guy and one old man who was laying in the middle of a very busy staircase!  I was going to take a photo of him but when I walked back he was sitting against the wall at the edge of the stairs so I guess someone asked him to move.

One thing that is very different from homeless here compared to any other country I can think of is they don’t bother anyone here.  They don’t ask for money, they don’t do anything to passersby.  In fact many homeless try to do what work they can such as collecting cans and papers for recycling and the small amount of money they can get from that.

There is so much I could write on this subject, and plenty that others have already written but if you would actually like to do something to help the homeless there are ways to do that too.  The first and easiest way is to pray for them that they may get what they need physically and spiritually.  Secondly donate your time and/or groceries to one of the groups that hand out food for example. This weekend on  Saturday and Sunday June 6th & 7th St Ignatius parish is accepting grocery donations for making onigiri but also accepts volunteers to prepare the onigiri and hand it out as well.  If you`re interested click on June 6th on the calendar here for more info.

Second Harvest Japan is Japan`s first food bank and works to help a wide range of people.

Here is a short ad from them.  I had heard on a tv show that while Japan has half the population of the U.S it wastes throws out twice the amount of food the U.S does.

25 babies left at Kumamoto baby hatch in fiscal 2008

1 06 2009



A total of 25 babies were left at a baby hatch facility for unwanted newborns inside a Kumamoto hospital during fiscal 2008, up from 17 in the facility’s inaugural year of fiscal 2007, the city of Kumamoto which gave permission for the facility said Monday. The latest figure brings the total number of babies and infants left at the baby hatch in the Jikei Hospital to 42 since the start of its operation in May 2007. None of the cases developed into criminal issues, such as child abuse.

article here

Jikei is a Catholic hospital as one can tell by seeing the photo of the actual baby hatch.  Some news videos and photos only focus on the bottom right hand area that is the exact hatch though  and omit the Jesus & Mary window.  Of course the affiliation of the hospital is not as important as the work they are doing,  however,  I am  happy to hear good news about a Catholic organization.  When the hospital first started operating the hatch there was a lot of criticism and speculation by some politicians and the media saying that the hatch would cause people to be more irresponsible and so on.  Two years later no one is saying that now.

The hospital`s website in Japanese is here

My post about the same story last year is here