Activities Report, Oct. 2010 – Feb. 2011
BLC Director, Akira Kobayashi
First of all, I want to express our appreciation to all of you who support the Buraku Liberation Center through your prayers. With your support, we were able to accomplish all of the planned activities for the 2010 fiscal year. I am thankful for the opportunity to describe the BLC activities to our international supporters through this English newsletter.
During the 4 months this report covers, our main new event to report on was the presentation of our new Liberation Play, "Who Is Your Neighbor?", at the 2010 General Assembly of the Kyodan. The general storyline and background will be presented in another article in this issue by the playwright and director, Jo Kawakami.
This play was the 9th Liberation Play the BLC has produced, but this time we faced a complicated situation at our premier showing at the General Assembly, as a fierce debate was expected. We were questioned as to the appropriateness of taking valuable time from the schedule of those who had gathered from around the country to deliberate very weighty matters, especially since one of the main points of contention was the Buraku Liberation Center itself. Even our supporters were asking how appropriate it was for the BLC, which endeavors to work for the human rights of each individual, to present a play on buraku discrimination when the serious issue of the ministerial credentials of Rev. Jiro Kitamura being revoked was being debated.
After the performance was over, people filled out a questionnaire, and some responded that the play reflected the Kitamura situation. But it was in this kind of atmosphere in which the staff and performers practiced their parts, prepared publicity and made other preparations during the month or so prior to the General Assembly. Shortly before the performance, BLC activities committee chairperson Makoto Higashitani spent about 30 minutes with everybody involved discussing the issue, saying, "This is the situation the assembly is in now. If we go through with performing the play, there may be criticisms and complaints." He then asked each participant what they thought should be done. Each expressed their opinions, and the consensus was that "if we are going to be criticized whether we go on with the play or not, we'd rather everyone see the play and base their criticism on that." About 150 people watched the play, and of those, 84 returned the questionnaire. The warm applause that we received at the end of the play was truly heartwarming.
The playwright, Jo Kawakami, also played the role of a problematic administrative council member, and Yurie Asami, who is a member of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Japan and a student at Osaka Christian Junior College, Yuki Tsushima, who is a member of the "Theater Hi-Wind" at Kwansei Gakuin University, helped him direct and produce the play. Takumi Kimura, pastor of the Minami Osaka Church, played the lead role, and although he was appearing for the first time in a liberation play, he did an outstanding performance, in spite of the difficulty of the role. The supporting cast included Seiko Miyajima, pastor of the Izumi Otsu Church, who portrayed another administrative council member of the church, Yoichi Higuchi, pastor of the Kumeda Church, Masataka Yamaguchi, a student at the Rural Evangelism Seminary, and another student, Seitaro Kitamura, all of who played their roles well.
While the next performances of this play are yet to be determined, the plan is to do performances in Osaka and Kyoto this coming August.
The most important event upcoming this year at the BLC is the "2011 Kanto District Buraku Liberation Caravan," which is scheduled from June 25 to July 5. The caravan will visit all 5 prefectures of the district, Niigata, Gumma, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Saitama, where we'll have a variety of events and field trips.
Crowned With Thorns Editorial Committee
From the BLC staff: Director Akira Kobayashi, Missionary Tim Boyle
From various BLC related committees: BLC management committee chairperson Makoto Higashitani, Rev. Dr. Tsunehisa Iwahashi, Rev. Ken Oguri, Rev. Mayumi Honma
We appreciate your comments and suggestions concerning this newsletter and how to make improvements.
Like so many deserving ministries around the world in this time of economic uncertainty, the BLC is likewise feeling the budget squeeze. We ask for your prayer support, that God will give us the wisdom to make the best use of the resources we have, as well as increasing those resources. As always, contributions from sources both inside and outside of Japan are deeply appreciated. We now have a means for cashing US dollar checks without incurring banking fees, and so even small contributions are helpful.