Courtesy of Postcards
Proposed Nagasaki Ground-Zero Shinto-Christian Center Draws Protest
By Buckner Wheat
NAGASAKI - Thousands of irate Japanese citizens turned out in Nagasaki last weekend to protest the planned construction of a Shinto-Christian cultural center, located just two blocks from the bull's eye of the city's Industrial Valley, an area known as "Ground Zero" since 1945.
For months city officials have braved a firestorm of protest over the proposed thirteen-story, $100-million dollar "mega-Christian" site. Masanori Ishikawa, a conservative voice for the local Imperial Shrine, said the city had rushed to push the project forward and had ignored the opinions of Shinto adherents and Japanese citizens who do not think the site is the right place for a Christian church.
Advocates of the Shinto-Christian center claim it will be "a world-class facility that promotes tolerance, reflecting the rich diversity of Nagasaki." It will also "serve as a platform for inter-community gatherings and cooperation at all levels, providing a space for all Nagasakians to enjoy."
"It's too soon," said Ishikawa. "America has always proclaimed that it was a Christian nation, based on spiritual principles; but to construct a mega-church within two blocks of the place where Christian fundamentalists ruthlessly killed so many of our citizens would be a slap in the face. Even after sixty-five years, the wounds to our citizens are still fresh."
Ishikawa reiterated that "although Christians in this nation are free to worship as they please, what they really want is for this center to be a breeding-ground for Christianic extremists."
He also worried that the increasing number of Christians in Japan were "beginning to throw their weight around."
Citing a 2006 survey conducted by the Gallup Organization, he continued, "Thirty percent of Japanese adults say they have a religion. Sixty-nine percent call themselves Buddhists, 19 percent Shintoists, and 12 percent Christians. Previously only 1 percent of Japanese people with religion identified themselves as Christians."
"And what a strange religion they have!" exclaimed Akira Tokushima, Head Imperial Member. "They claim to worship a god who sent his son to commit suicide for our sins so that he could be resuscitated. Then he proclaimed that if you don't believe he lived forever, you'll experience eternal
Prime Minister Naoto Kan observed, "I really can't understand these tea-ceremony Shinto fundamentalists. Don't they know that our constitution allows for a free expression of religion? If the government blocks the construction of the Shinto-Christian Center, the whole meaning of Japan's constitution is worthless."
Kan sighed reflectively. "Is that what the tea-ceremonialists really want?"
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