Meeting With Young People, St. Mary's Cathedral, Tokyo, Japan © Vatican Media

Young People of Japan: A Catholic, A Buddhist and a Migrant Testify before the Pope

‘To Find the Time to Think and Act According to God’

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A young Catholic, a young Buddhist, and a young migrant testified before the Pope, who met with Japan’s young people on November 25, 2019.

On the third day of his visit to the country — the second stage after Thailand — the Holy Father went to Tokyo’s Saint Mary’s Cathedral, where 900 enthusiastic young people received him, and gave him a kimono with his face printed on it. Three of them took the floor in the course of the meeting.

Young Catholic Miki Kobayashi described her country as being “very committed to work.” However, she deplored that few felt it worthwhile to pause to “reflect on themselves and simply to pray.” In a society where many think that they “can live without believing in something,” Miki expressed her desire “to find time to think and act according to God.”

In fact, “because of the lack of time, young people might not see the numerous stars and lose the joyful occasion to experience God’s grandeur and their littleness, and to realize that God is with them.” “The rule of God’s measure is different from society’s standards and from our values. God takes care of everyone,” stressed Miki.

“While belonging to the Church, we must live our faith in the society, the young girl affirmed.

A Buddhist also gave her testimony: Masako Kudo, a sports teacher, mentioned the bullying and rate of suicides of students. As well as their lack of openness to others, accentuated by the spread of the virtual world. “In my school students compare themselves to others and have inferiority or superiority feelings. They aren’t happy with themselves and have very low self-esteem; however, at the same time, they are unable to recognize others’ efforts and results.

Masako continued: “I realized that the attitude of those students is also mine. I compare myself to my older brother and to my friends. I want to be better than everyone and I want to be encouraged by others.” Masako did express her desire “to help these students to become aware of their goodness and their value.

Finally, Leonardo Cachuela, a young immigrant, native of the Philippines, talked about the bullying to which he was exposed, on his arrival in Japan, by a boy of his class: “He said to me . . . in a low voice: “bloody foreigner,” “obese,” “disgusting.” “I felt mocked just be his look and I could no longer smile. Every day I just wanted to disappear, the others mocked me behind my back and I was ever more anguished . . . I never suffered physical violence, but yes words, looks, facial expressions . . . which oppressed me. I spent most of my time at school alone, avoiding the others   . . . I lived many difficult moments and I thought of suicide.”

The young boy was “saved” by his parish. “The kind words of priests, of animators and friends, as well as those of Jesus, who said to me in the Bible “Fear not, I am with you . . . I will help you and support you . . .” all <of which> encouraged me.”

“Bullying is a great problem not only in Japan, but also in many parts of the world,” including on the Internet, he deplored in conclusion: “So many people want to live happily, but they just survive.”


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Anne Kurian-Montabone

Laurea in Teologia (2008) alla Facoltà di teologia presso l'Ecole cathedrale di Parigi. Ha lavorato 8 anni per il giornale settimanale francese France Catholique" e participato per 6 mese al giornale "Vocation" del servizio vocazionale delle chiesa di Parigi. Co-autore di un libro sulla preghiera al Sacro Cuore. Dall'ottobre 2011 è Collaboratrice della redazione francese di Zenit."

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