Remembering St. Luis Ibaraki

The Living Past column titled “Japan’s ‘Christian century’ failed to blossom” in the Dec. 20 edition made me ponder one aspect of our history in Japan. The writer of the article says that for the Japanese “… there is no ‘beyond’ (transcending man and nature).”

I remember St. Luis Ibaraki, who was one of the 26 Nagasaki martyrs (in 1597).He was the youngest, only 12 years old. On his way to his crucifixion, he was told by a samurai to give up his belief in order to escape dying on the cross. Ibaraki responded to him, “It would be better if you also became a Christian and joined me on the way to heaven.”

He believed in and chose “beyond.” Wasn’t he Japanese? Yes, he was. He was a Japanese Christian.

Since then Ibaraki has lived in an invisible world; he has continued to influence people around the world.

One example is a German-born scholar, Alfons Deeken. He founded the Japanese Association for Death Education and Grief Education in 1983. When he was asked why he wanted to come to Japan, he stated, “I felt a great desire to visit the country that had produced such a courageous boy.”

Ibaraki is a fruit that blossomed in Japanese soil. However, such persecution should never be repeated.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.