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Ken Joseph Jr.

The Japan Helpline

Hometown: Tokyo

Number of years in Japan (cumulative): 51 (as of June 2019)

Ken Joseph Jr.
Q1: What was your first encounter with Japan?

Following World War II, Gen. Douglas McArthur called for 10,000 young people to come to Japan and help rebuild after the war. My parents came in response to that appeal, met in Karuizawa where the training center was and married at about the same time as the emperor emeritus and empress emerita were dating in Karuizawa. All of us kids were born at the Seventh Day Hospital in Ogikubo.

Q2: Please state your motto in life and why you have chosen it.

The words of Kanzo Uchimura, “I for Japan, Japan for the World, the World for Christ.” Uchimura was one of the great social reformers of Japan and along with fellow Christian leader Toyohiko Kagawa, who my father worked under, transformed Japan. I would like to follow in their footsteps in seeing Japan contribute to the world.

Q3 : Over your career, what achievement are you the proudest of?

Continuing on the work of my father that began in 1951 and now called The Japan Helpline, which is the only 24-hour assistance service for the international community. Serving for over 20 years on two committees at the Tokyo American Club to serve the community, author of 18 books and teaching at 3 universities, as well as regular commentary on TV. “So Lucky to have been born in Japan” is the best book.

Q4 : What are your goals during your time in Japan, your current position or in life?

We are working on upgrading the services of The Japan Helpline with an app, and integrating our worldwide database of 22,000 volunteers so we can provide near immediate response to the growing number of needs in the community. We offer the same services overseas with 24-hour numbers in 55 countries. Love. We also operate Japan’s only Disaster Relief Vehicle, a 30-foot converted motor home currently being repaired following Tohoku.

Q5 : What wisdom, advice or tips can you give to people living and working in Japan?

Love, serve and enjoy Japan, but never forget where you came from. I was born and raised in Japan, but am a proud American. I am particularly proud of what my parents and 10,000 Americans did in rebuilding postwar Japan and the role that America played in rebuilding Japan. We grew up at a time people would literally hug us on the streets thanking us for all that had been done for them, from feeding, clothing and medically caring for a war-devastated country. Also, value community. From the Foreign Correspondents Club, founded in 1945, to the Tokyo American Club, founded in 1928, when all Americans were expelled from Tokyo's private clubs following the passage of the immigration act as well as the Chamber of Commerce, churches and more, become part of and serve the community. This is the real key to enjoying Japan — being part of and contributing to strengthening the international community, and as a Christian, trying to let Jesus Christ shine through me.

Last updated: Jun 3, 2019