10/06/2017, 16.03
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The Churches of Vietnam and Japan together for the pastoral care of migrants

by Thanh Thuy

The two are committed to Vietnamese immigrants in Japan. Commissions from the two Bishops’ Conferences are set to work together against exploitation.

Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Church of Vietnam and Japan are working closely together on various topics, but the main focus remains pastoral care, immigration, and evangelisation.

Since 1979, some 200,000 Vietnamese have immigrated to Japan. Many of them are Catholic with specific needs related to their religion.

According to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ), the country is home to about 450,000 Catholics, or 0.37 per cent out of a population of 120 million people. There are 1,800 priests (including 519 foreigners) who serve sixteen dioceses in three archdioceses: Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagasaki.

In 2002, Vietnamese Card Gioan Baotixita Phạm Minh Mẫn launched a programme for consecrated vocations to proclaim the Gospel in Japan, under Mgr Phaolô Bùi Văn Đọc, archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City.

This year, the CBCJ released its pastoral orientation, centred on ‘Toward the Kingdom of God and Reaching out to the Country’s Border’.

In it, the Bishops’ Conference calls on dioceses and parishes to work with the Commission for Immigrants, Refugees and Residents in Japan (J-CaRM) to help foreign Catholics to participate actively in the sacraments and be educated in the faith in their own language.

This also entails promoting integration by translating pastoral information and setting up diocesan counselling offices on social issues.

On 24 September, the bishops organised the ‘Day of Migration and Refugees’ to raise awareness among Catholics about the presence and needs of immigrants.

For the occasion, Mgr Giuse Đỗ Mạnh Hùng, president of the Commission for the pastoral care of migrants of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Vietnam (CBCV), led a delegation from 23 to 28 September to work with J-CaRM in Japan.

The two commissions looked at the situation of Vietnamese immigrants in Japan. The Japanese hosts reported that 88,000 of them are in the country for vocational training. This figure does not include students who have come for university level studies.

At the same time, the Church is concerned about the rising number of cases of exploitation and sexual abuse of immigrants.

For this reason, the two commissions decided to set up a support group that includes Vietnamese priests. Japanese bishops will provide two pastoral centres in Tokyo and Osaka.

Social and legal aid workers have also set up programmes and mobilised government authorities to protect migrants from labour exploitation.

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