Japan hosts “the world’s most international March for Life”

For Immediate Release      Joe Woodard
Original: July 17, 2018       +852 69955692
Revised: July 22, 2018       joe@asiaforlife.com

  •         Japan’s Annual March for Life growing steadily
  •         Many more foreigners expected to attend in 2020, prior to Summer Olympics
  •         Pro-life efforts impact Japanese cultural attitudes on abortion and adoption

[Tokyo, Japan, 2018.07.17] – Japan’s 5th Annual March for Life was the nation’s largest yet, with well over 200 participants walking peacefully through Tokyo’s city center, holding pro-life signs and singing songs and hymns in different languages.
During the 1-hour walk, participants wore light clothing and sun hats to prevent the possibility of heat exhaustion as they walked on the main road in Ginza with police assistance. Despite the weather, it was a very cheerful and energetic event. Many families participated, as well as Christian clergy, Catholic priests and nuns, and university students. Every age was represented, from preborn children to people in their 80s and 90s.

Christian Today article at 「中絶やめよう」「小さないのちを守ろう」 マーチ・フォー・ライフ、市民ら250人が参加

Mr. Masaki Ikeda, a Japanese restaurant owner who coordinated this year’s March for Life, said that the number of Japanese and foreign participants is growing every year. This week, nearly one-fifth were foreign residents living in Japan, from Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, India, Ireland, Peru, Samoa, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Poland, the Philippines, and the United States.

Most participants were from Tokyo, but one Brazilian community traveled 4 hours by bus from Aichi to join the event, and chatted with their fellow marchers in Portuguese, Spanish, English, and Japanese. There were also at least 17 participants who travelled from out of country to join March for Life events, from Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.

Sr. Fidelis, an Argentinian nun who runs a mother’s home in Taiwan, led songs in Spanish. And a group of Taiwanese young adults from Ray of Hope, a Christian pro-life ministry in Tainan, held pro-life signs in Chinese and Japanese to support the event.

Each year, there are similar pro-life walks around the world, including hundreds of local, regional, and national events that have developed in response to widespread abortion. Mr. Ikeda said that despite the relatively small numbers of pro-lifers in Japan, they have “the most international March for Life in the world” because of the large ratio of foreigners and non-Japanese citizens who joined. And the March for Life planning committee expects many foreigners to join the July 13, 2020 event, which will be held in Tokyo the week before the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Japan’s first March for Life in 2014 started with 33 Japanese people, and has grown steadily each year. There were at least 220 people counted at this year’s event. Most of the attendees were Catholics.

The annual walk is held on or near July 13, because the Eugenic Protection Act was passed on this date in 1948, at the behest of the Japanese Socialist Party and the support of the US-led Allied forces governing Japan at that time. This law made abortion legal and acceptable in Japanese society, leading to over one million abortions per year by the time the Allied Occupation of Japan ended in 1952.

For decades, Japan’s government required or encouraged many thousands of women and men to be sterilized. In 1996, the Eugenic Protection Act was replaced by the Maternal Protection Act, which ended mandatory sterilization, but still allows abortion.

Pro-life efforts in Japan have empowered many women and families to give birth. In especially difficult cases, they help to place children for adoption. Pastor Kenzo Tsujioka, the 84-year old founder of the Japan March for Life, has employed many strategies to enable Japanese families to adopt, in a society where this is unusual and unpopular.

Pastor Kenzo also hosts an annual family retreat that attracts many families with adopted children. And he has indirectly influenced Japan’s adoption laws through Pro-Life Japan, the Christian organization he began in 1984, after he and his wife began to persuade women to let them care for their children rather than to abort.

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Asia for Life is a Christian pro-life organisation based in Hong Kong, and provides education and resources for building a culture of life in East Asia.

If you would like more information about this story, email joe@asiaforlife.com, or WhatsApp +852 69955692.

And, they have so many great photos at the Japan March for Life Facebook Page!