This week’s #asiaforlifepodcast is covering stories from the 2019 Japan March for Life. Listen to the podcast here:

LISTEN: Japan March for Life—The Cloudiest Summer


I’m doing some podcast episodes about this year’s Japan March for Life. I’m also going to try to say some words in Japanese without totally botching them. We’ll see if that works.

So, as soon as I landed in Tokyo, I went to the guest house where I was staying to drop off my bag. And then I went directly to the Ochanomizu Christian Center, to the Pro-Life Japan office, where Pastor Kenzo Tsujioka runs his ministry.

What’s the best possible future for pro-life ministry in Japan?

[00:33] When I was eating lunch with Pastor Ken, I asked him, “What’s your dream? What’s the best possible future for your ministry, Pro-Life Japan?” He simply said that he hopes to find a successor. Basically, that’s all he wants.

But there are so few Christians in Japan, and there are so few Christians who are willing to lead. And I think it’s not economics, and it’s not lack of resources. I believe the problem here is a lack of faith. Christians don’t see how they can make a meaningful difference in Japan regarding abortion and the other life issues. Maybe it’s also, like, they need more education or whatever. But I think there’s a lack of faith, and a lack of vision. And where there is no vision, people perish.

Anyway, I’m going to do something a little bit weird with this podcast, but I hope it actually makes sense and isn’t just corny or weird at the end. We’ll see how it goes.

Over 90% of the sunshine was missing

[01:32] So, it was July 15—that was the day of the March for Life—there was actually a news report about how the weather. Since records began like 58 years ago, there has never been such a long stretch of days with so little sunshine. They consider 3 hours of sunshine—where the sun is not covered by clouds—to be a very low sunshine day. But there was only, like, several hours of sunshine for nearly 3 weeks. For like 19 days, I think it was less than 10 hours [total] sunshine, which is like…it’s usually 10 or 12 times more than that. It was less than 10% of the normal sunshine for that time of year, in Tokyo and the surrounding region.

People holding umbrellas in rain at train station entrance in Japan

That’s weird, right? The sun gets blocked by clouds every day, but not all day. Not all day, for weeks in a row. That never happens.

And July in Tokyo is super hot. But during the March for Life, it was actually cool. I’m not complaining…I thought it was nice, because it was comfortable to walk in cooler weather, but it was also strange. Why is it cool in the middle of the summer?

I read in the news later that what happened was that cold water from the Russian coast caused cold air to come down to Japan, and for some reason that meteorologists seem to understand (that I don’t understand), that somehow that caused the ongoing cloud cover, and the lack of sunshine.

And of course the reason I noticed it, was that it was record-breaking weather phenomenon that happened in Tokyo at the same time as the March for Life. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but anyway, that’s why I was paying attention to the news.

Chilly Russian Wind

[03:22] I’m going to change gears for just one minute. Right before I left Japan, I had a conversation with a Russian guy. He’s a Christian, and he’s my age, and his Japanese wife had just had a baby the day before I arrived in Japan. It was a very exciting time for them. But anyway, I was having breakfast with this guy, before he went back to the hospital to take care of his wife and baby. He asked me about abortion in Japan, because he knew I was there for the March for Life. And he actually didn’t know that before Japan legalized abortion in 1948, the first country on Earth to legalize abortion was actually Russia, his home country, in 1920. He knew it happened then, but he didn’t know they were the first.

So, you probably know that Japan has had a lot of cultural influence from America, but also from Russia. And it was the socialist ideology that had come from Russia, and also, to some extent, the eugenic philosophy from America—that led Japan to legalize abortion in 1948.

So—back to my story about the sunshine. A couple days after the March for Life, I was still in Japan. I was thinking about those clouds that were preventing the sunshine. And I was thinking about how Christians need to let their light shine. And I was thinking about how Christians in Japan have really not been willing to take on the issue of abortion, much at all. And honestly, I was depressed that there were practically no Protestants willing to join the March for Life.

“the church is for the gospel, not for social issues”

[04:55] Actually, last year, I was in Tokyo…I’ll just share this story real quick—I met a Christian pastor, from America. He’s one of those guys who said that church is only for the Gospel, not for social issues. Whatever. Ultimately, he was also pro-choice. But he said: “But partial-birth abortion…that’s really bad! It’s terrible.”

Unfortunately, partial-birth abortion is actually a social issue too. I don’t know what he says about that at church, though.

Anyway, back to this year’s trip to Japan. The day before I left Japan, I was thinking about how I could do something, like, to call on churches in Japan to stand for life. And I thought, “Maybe I can make a video. I’ll try for 30 minutes, and if it’s lousy I’ll give up.”

The light shines down when Christians speak up

[05:49] So I decided to do a video, and I really felt I should go outside—specifically, to go to the rooftop—and make the video there. And while I was shooting that video, I saw the sunshine. And it might have actually been the first sunshine I saw break through the clouds in Japan while I was there. And that day was the end of the long stretch—the historically, record-breaking long stretch of days—without sunshine in the region around Tokyo.

I might actually include that video I shot—or at least the audio from it—as a podcast episode.

two children running towards the sunlight in TokyoTwo children running in the sun’s rays, Tokyo, July 17, 2019

But I guess the main point of this episode is that the light makes a difference. During the 19 days without sunshine in the region around Tokyo, it’s not that everything was completely dark. But once the sun finally broke through the clouds, it was—everything was so much clearer. It was so much more beautiful. It’s hard to explain that difference, but you can see it. I mean, I saw kids running and playing, in the sun. After the sun broke through, I didn’t need to add a filter to my Instagram photos. The sunlight…lets us see things in their natural beauty.

And I don’t think the world will see the beauty of life, and the true horror of abortion and other attacks on life, if Christians don’t shine a light on these things. It’s not that people are completely blind, but they can’t see clearly without the light shining.

Okay…love everybody, and let your light shine.

Because of the ongoing civil unrest in Hong Kong, Asia for Life is taking this season to invest in projects that will prevent violence, chaos, and despair. Until Summer 2020, this website will have fewer updates than usual.

Because of the ongoing civil unrest in Hong Kong, Asia for Life is taking this season to invest in projects that will prevent violence, chaos, and despair. Until Summer 2020, this website will have fewer updates than usual.

This city has always had an unusual degree of liberty, and has long supported Christian ministries and fundamental human rights initiatives throughout Asia. That's why it's urgent that Hong Kong maintain its freedoms, and hope for the future.

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