Monday, September 13, 2010

Father Nishi and the Post-WWII reconciliation movement–BECOMING FILIPINO, what it means and what it meant

When I flew to Taiwan from the Philippines just over 2 weeks ago, I picked up that day’s MANILA BULLETIN and came across an interesting article on one Father Toru Nishimoto (“Fr. Nishi”) would have celebrated his 77th birthday that day. The article brought to light that after WWII that was a reconciliation movement of sort between the Japanese perpetrating nation’s peoples and the occupied victims of the Philippines during the Post-WWII era.

This movment may have been small, but the reverance with whch this obituary for Fr. Nishi is written belies the fact that some Filipinos and Japanese have tried to reach out and make a difference in Asian-to-Asian relations.

http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/274622/god-bless-you-fr-nishi

God bless you Fr. Nishi
By FR. ROLANDO V. DE LA ROSA, O.P.
August 28, 2010, 11:12pm



Fr. Toru Nishimoto (“Fr. Nishi”) would have celebrated his 77th birthday today (August 29). But yesterday (August 28), he was laid to rest after a long bout with kidney disease and leukemia.

A person gifted with boundless humor, he considered his sickness as God’s way of turning him into a full-blooded Filipino. He once told his niece Mako after several dialysis sessions: “Not a single drop of Japanese blood flows in my veins now. It is the blood of my Filipino donors that keeps me alive.”

A native of Kyoto, Japan, he was the first Japanese Redemptorist priest. He stayed in the Philippines since 1975 as an urban missionary, a benefactor of Filipino students, chaplain of Japanese nationals in the country, and a relentless fund raiser for pastoral and civic projects benefitting countless Filipinos.

From 1982 up to the time of his death, 9,822 students from all over the country had benefited from the various scholarship programs that he had initiated. What is unique with these programs is the missionary “twist” that Fr. Nishi incorporated in them. Each Filipino scholar is sent to school by a Japanese national. Fr. Nishi required the scholar to regularly send letters to his or her Japanese benefactor. This constant and continuous communication was seen by Fr. Nishi as an effective way of evangelization. Through letter writing, the scholar shared the stories of his life, faith, and hopes, hoping thereby to help his Japanese benefactor recognize and appreciate the beauty of Christianity. Some of these benefactors came to the Philippines and were introduced to our way of life and system of values and beliefs. Not a few of them expressed the intent of embracing Christianity. Some decided to be baptized in the Catholic Church.

An excellent communicator, Fr. Nishi founded the Japanese section of Radio Veritas in 1976. He was so successful in his daily broadcasts that, within a particular period, out of the 21,670 letters received by Radio Veritas, 20,012 were about Fr. Nishi’s program. Unfortunately, the program had to be terminated in 1992, but this did not stop Fr. Nishi from using the mass media for his pastoral activities. He published books, wrote articles, and gave conferences to introduce the Philippines to his fellow Japanese, hoping to encourage them to support his various projects for poor Filipinos.

The late Jaime Cardinal Sin once called him “Father by Night” because one of Fr. Nishi’s early apostolates in the Philippines was to minister to Japanese tourists who frequented the once infamous “red light district.” In the evening, he would go around this place trying to persuade his fellow Japanese to look for more wholesome surroundings. Most of the time he was unsuccessful, but the few who followed his advice eventually discovered that the country offers more fulfilling delights than what those seedy night spots offer. He established a travel office showcasing the best of the country to Japanese tourists.

Fr. Nishi was an achiever. But what will immortalize him in our hearts was the fact that he came as a foreigner but ended up as a Filipino who loved the Philippines better than most of us do. And he desired to be one like us, not by a naturalization decree from the Office of Immigration, but by the more rewarding way of humble and loving service. God bless you Fr. Nishi.

NOTES

Here is a website on Redemptorism.

http://www.cssr.org.au/what_we_do/default.cfm?loadref=8

Here is an article on recent attempts for Japan to reconcile with victims at Bataan.

http://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/japan/japan-to-host-wwii-pows-in-long-awaited-reconciliation-move-1.115454

“During the war captured some 26,000 U.S. troops and forced them to work for Japanese companies. Japan also interned tens of thousands of other allied troops and Chinese, Koreans and Filipinos during the Sino-Japanese War and World War II, using them as slave labor.”

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