10/27/2017, 11.02
JAPAN-VATICAN
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Bishop Kikuchi: I want to bring unity and mission to Tokyo’s mix of different cultures

by Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi

The new archbishop of Tokyo explains his vision for this new responsibility. He will be shepherd to 90,000 faithful in a city with over 9 million inhabitants. The fruit of his missionary experience in Ghana.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – To bring unity to Tokyo, a city full of "diversity" and "a mix of cultures"; and to bring the missionary spirit to the Christian community there, "a minority, compared to the Japanese" population. This is the vision that Msgr. Tarcisio Isao Yama Kikuchi has of his future as Archbishop of Tokyo. Nominated two days by Pope Francis, Msgr. Kikuchi wanted to share with AsiaNews the prospects of his ministry.

Bishop Kikuchi, 59, was born in the Prefecture of Iwate (diocese of Sendai) and has been a member of the Divine Word Society since 1985. He was ordained a priest one year later, completing his studies in Australia. For some years, from 1986 to 1992, he was a missionary in the dioceses of Accra and Koforidua (Ghana). Former, provincial and provincial superior counselor for his institute in Japan, in 1998 he became a member of Caritas Japan, of which he became Executive Director. In April 2004 he was appointed bishop of Niigata. On October 25, he was appointed Archbishop of Tokyo, a city with over 9.2 million people. In Japan out of over 127 million inhabitants, there are about 500,000 local Catholics. Many come from Asia, Latin America and Africa, to Japan for work or as migrants. Here is Msgr. Kikuchi’s message to AsiaNews.

Dear Father Bernardo,

Followings are some points which I want to share on this appointment for Tokyo.

First and most importantly, I am grateful to Holy Father for his trust in me to appoint me to the see of Tokyo. I will try my best to be a good and faithful pastor of the Church in Tokyo.

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and the biggest in number of faithful in the diocese among 16 dioceses in Japan. I have been a bishop of seven thousand Catholics for the past 13 years and now I will be in charge of more than ninety thousand. So it is quite a challenge for me.

Most of the religious congregations in Japan, both men and women, have their head office in Tokyo. There are number of institutions, such as Universities and secondary schools, hospitals and social welfare facilities, established by these religious orders. There are number of parishes entrusted to religious communities. There are people from all over Japan residing in Tokyo, and not only from Japan but from all over the world. There are mixture of cultures and realities of people.

Naturally, one of the characteristic of Tokyo is diversity. My Episcopal motto has been and will continue to be "Unity in Diversity". Diversity exists but the question is whether unity has been achieved?

Though the Catholic Church in Tokyo is the biggest community in Japan, it is still a minority if compared to the population. So, Church community has to be a evangelizing community, community being witness of Gospel value by its very existence. To be so, I believe, the Church community has to be united while keeping its unique diversity. Achieving unity in diversity is my priority in Tokyo.

I have never lived nor worked in Tokyo so that I do not know the people or even priests there. I need some time to observe and understand the reality of the archdiocese but I will try my best. Archbishop Okada is, as he is still active and strong, willing to assist me to get to know the diocese. What I have is not the academic degrees but experience of mission in Ghana as young missionary priest. So I hope to be able to arouse missionary spirit among people in the diocese.

And I would like to ask for prayers of many so that I may be able to fulfill my duty as Archbishop of Tokyo.

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