Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dec. 9 Dr. Linda Semlitz, dir of Tokyo English Life Line

Greetings on the first Sunday in Advent (for those practicing a Christian faith and looking towards Christmas). Along with light-filled greetings on the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, and finally best wishes for a happy holidays and the satisfactory completion of the Year’s unfinished business and housecleaning (literal and spiritual) especially for all you humanists, Buddhists and Scots among the friends and members of the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo.

from the moderator, Peggy Kanada


Next Meeting December 9 (2012)

3:00 International House  

   We welcome Dr. Linda Semlitz, director of TELL, who will talk about Tokyo English Life Line and its suicide prevention and counseling work, and a little about her personal journey as a psychiatrist and NGO administrator. Mary Donovan will lead us in songs for Christmas and the holiday season before the talk.


January 13, speaker not confirmed

 And we have confirmed for February 10 (2013) --John Amari, who works within an intellectual property organization. He will talk about’ “Intellectual Property and the Right to Community Identity.  Should the terms "Parmigiano" and "Champagne" be used exclusively by people who live in those regions or also by similar producers who use the same processes and ingredients??Originally a  fight between old Europe and North America, as intellectual property laws and values spread, the issue will become more important in Asia, Africa, and South America.

Nov. 10 Charles McJilton of Second Harvest

While possibly a third of food in Japan is thrown away because it is not perfect, pristine and presentable - or because of industry standards of disposing of food long before its expiration date, many in Japan, the elderly, children of single mothers, out-of-work immigrants and, yes, also, the homeless, do not get enough healthy and safe food to eat.

That was the message of Charles McJilton who spoke with us on November 10th.   And the organization he leads, Second Harvest, is trying to do something about it.  Already more than 250 food companies pass goods to his organization to be redistributed through the hot meal, emergency food package and food bank programs that has been set up by Second Harvest.

Charles told us how he got a look up close at Japan's poverty by living in a "blue sheet" cardboard shack along the Sumida River for 18 months, getting to know first hand about the pride, the honesty and the life style of those who make there homes out of cardboard and plastic and live invisibly in plain sight.   And how he decided that although he was not responsible for them being in that situation, he could decide to respond to it, and how with others built Japan's first food bank.

He also told stories of his efforts to get food to the areas in need during the Tohoku disaster, and how one of the problems of helping those in need get the food they need is not finding the food, but finding the needy and the organizations that can (and are willing) to deliver the food to them.

As always, his talk was enjoyable and inspiring.   http://www.2hj.org/

Comment by Chuck Olson

Monday, September 24, 2012

October 14 - Kizuna Child -Parent Reunion

Dear members and friends of the fellowship,

    Last time we had an interesting discussion about revitalizing agriculture and communities in the countryside through Prof. Akimi Fujimoto's talk about his Jonodai project in Niigata.


Next Meeting:

3:00 at International House  October 14th

Our speaker will be John Gomez who has recently founded a group "Kizuna Child--Parent Reunion." 

He will talk about his efforts and  hopes to nudge Japanese society to change its consensus and laws towards divorce  that allow only  sole/single parental custody. Divorce in Japan also can be particularly difficult if it involves children in an international marriage. What is happening with Japan's  adoption of the 'Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction' (1980)? 

The discussion will look at  broader issues including children's, women's  and grandparent's rights.

 And most important let's consider with John how do we-- as concerned people--as Unitarians--work to bring about social change?

Peggy Kanada, moderator of the Fellowship


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sept 9 Double Program - Food Sustainability / Communication

Dear friends and members of the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo,

   We had a good turn out at our annual pot luck at the Kanada home on July 8th. 

Chuck Roberts, now our oldest fellowship member, joined us-- arriving on his bicycle in the heat! 

We also enjoyed the intellectually challenging remarks of gracious Father Leo Lefebure, professor at Georgetown Univ and guest of Miriam Levering.

 Later in the evening two Korean photographers (now living in Japan)  came by at Murata Nobuhiko's invitation. It was an unexpected and interesting opportunity to meet Ahn Sehong who was just finishing up his controversial show at Nikon Gallery (it went to court and was in the news) about his photos of "Sex Slave/Comfort Women" --that is  women of Korean heritage who are now in their eighties and living in China. We looked at his album of photos of women who have managed to survive but who have never received an apology or compensation and whose lives were blighted by their experiences at the hands of the Japanese. 

Next Meeting:

September 9     3:00 at International House. 

>>An Exciting "Double " Program<<

Prof Fujimoto Akimi: Revitalization, Sustainability and Education.

 He will talk about his recent initiative to start  and run a local company to re-develop idle land in Niigata for sustainable organic food cultivation with community/student  participation.

 It is an interesting story and may be an inspiring model for  other communities or NPO's that many of us work with or support. Also issues/data about  FOOD SAFETY seem even more relevant  since 3/11.

 Fujimoto is a professor at Tokyo Univ of Agriculture (Nodai). Please  check the web about his organization  called "Jonodai"  http://www.jnodai.co.jp/english/index.html

 Helen Fujimoto,  who also  introduced Akimi to our fellowship , during our opening half hour will give us a brief introduction to Presence Based Communication or  "the Art of Being in Context". She is a certified practitioner and will lead us in this  opportunity to experience a kind of  meditation  (focusing and empowerment)  through  an exercise of "speaking circles".

We look forward to seeing our old friend and  member Bonnie McClure who expects to be in Tokyo on a short visit before starting a graduate school program.

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

June topic Tagore--'Poet of a Defeated Nation'

Dear friends and members of the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo,


      Our next meeting>> June 10  3:00 at International House

       We are pleased to have as our speaker Vivek Pinto, an old friend of the fellowship, who is a professor, journalist and long term resident of Tokyo from India.

 He will speak about R.Tagore (1861-1941) --the great Bengali poet and composer, writer,educationalist, anti-imperialist and supporter of  Indian nation-building (and the first Asian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913).   Tagore was an important figure in introducing Indian culture to the west and other nations. Pinto in a recent paper (from which he will base his talk to us) examined the  visits and connections Tagore made with  Japan especially during the years when imperialistic Japanese were rushing headlong into  disastrous war and ultimate defeat. 

Rabindranath Tagore--'Poet of a Defeated Nation'.

Link to his paper:

 "Rabindranath Tagore and Japan: A Poet's Propehcy," on Sophia Univ. document website.

Step 1: Please access the following URL: http://repository.cc.sophia.ac.jp/dspace/handle/123456789/4943

Step 2: Once you come to the home page, then type 29 (in numerals) in the box SEARCH.

Step 3: This will bring up the current issue of The Journal of Sophia Asian Studies, vol. 29, 2011.

Step 4: Scroll down to find his paper.  On the right there is an icon OPEN. 

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Sunday, April 29, 2012

May 13 Talk - Tristam Ivory on "Sub-Saharan Africans in Japan

Dear members and friends of the Unitarian Fellowship,

   At the April meeting, our member Chuck Olson (unfortunately Stan Yukevich could not come at the last minute but Chuck used Stan’s notes along with his own) made some interesting points and led a lively discussion about the economic unfairness in our societies. Among the data/graphs he presented the steep rise since the mid 1970’s in income disparity has stuck in my mind.

  Miriam Levering extended, along with the moderator, our apologies for miscommunication about the planned meeting on March 4 with Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (North America), which is our fellowship umbrella organization. We will try to update our email/phone numbers especially for emergency contacts.

In the end, the fellowship could not have a private lunch with Morales, but Levering and Donovan and the Murata family were able to attend the Sunday service at Dojin Kuristo Kyokai (Japanese Universalist Church) and spoke with him there. UUA is gearing up for the General Assembly this summer in Arizona—and Morales has taken on (as a priority for UU’s) the issues of immigration and racial/cultural discrimination, especially relating to Hispanics in the USA.

For our fellowship these issues are relevant in our own experiences too.  We can relate Morales’ concerns to how we think about human rights and nationality/ legal issues here in Japan. Join us for the May meeting with Tristam Ivory who will talk about one group of ex-pat/short and long term residents.

Unitarian Fellowship NEXT MEETING:  May 13    

 3:00 at International House

Stanford University researcher, Tristam Ivory, will discuss "Migrant Human and Social Capital Investments: The Case of Sub-Sahara Africans in Japan" which will also include something about religious support networks.

Also we are pleased to announce JUNE 10 Fellowship Meeting with Vivek Pinto--  Rabindranath Tagore and Japan:  'The Poet of a Defeated Nation.’

Our June speaker (Vivek Pinto)'s essay can be found on the Sophia University website
Step 1: Please access the following URL (Uniform Resource Locator): http://repository.cc.sophia.ac.jp/dspace/handle/123456789/4943 --then type in "29" as the title for "search".

TELL (Tokyo English Life Line-- phone and counseling support in English) has sent us the info about their big annual fundraiser—the TELL Run/Walk (your moderator always walks!) around the Imperial Palace.

9:00 Saturday May 5th  (meet along moat in front of British Embassy)

Registration (donation 4,500) gets you a T-shirt. See their website.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 8 discussion - Income Inequality

Dear friends and members of the Unitarian Fellowship of Tokyo,


Our next meeting (as usual) will be the second Sunday of the month.

April 8th 3:00 at International House

Our stalwart members Stan Yukevich and Chuck Olson have rescheduled their March talk for this date.

     ---The Wealthiest 1%, Fairness issue or distraction?--

This turns out to be Easter Sunday and so i hope many of you can join us for what should be a great discussion. Two related topics that I hope will enter our discussion include financial managers compensation and a consideration of how all of "us workers" might do better with stronger unionization-- including the example of very poor women's organizing under SEWA in western India.

Peggy Kanada, moderator

Saturday, March 10, 2012

March 11 - Occupy Wall Street - March 11 memorial

The Tokyo Unitarian Fellowship will be meeting at 3 p.m. March 11 at the International House in Roppongi.  The topic for discussion considerations of the issues raised by the concentration of wealth on politics as raised by the occupy wall street movement.

When this topic was chosen for March we were not conscious that the date would fall on March 11, a date that changed us all, and we will certainly be thinking of all the people lost that day and all the deep changes that have happened or our happening in Japan.

Stan Yukevich will lead the OWS discussion.   Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Feb. 12 "What Ballam's Ass Said, and What the Women Answered

Next meeting:  February 12

3:00 at International House

Unitarian Barbara Beach (joined by her husband Kim): "What Balaam’s Ass Said, and What the Women Answered”

Kim will speak briefly about "Balaam’s  Ass" work he has been doing.  Barbara will talk about her February activities(and about Unitarians)  in the Philippines (primarily in Negros) as well as about  the forthcoming gathering of Unitarian women in Romania (Transylvania) in October. Barbara after a career in business and consulting has become the president and powerhouse behind the International Convocation of UU Women which seeks to more efficiently (especially thru the internet) link up women's social activism and insights to empower women across the globe. She was the dynamic keynote speaker at the International Ass of Liberal Religious Women in Kerala, India in September 2010.  

Peggy Kanada, moderator


PS  Your moderator had to reread about Balaam.  

While not wishing to spoil the intriguing title and their presentation here is a little background. Although there are several interpretations of the story of 'Balaam and his Ass [or Donkey]' found in the Old Testament/Torah (Bk of Numbers) it is told that Balaam is an evil non-Israelite diviner [some scholars say with possible links to Zoroastrianism]  who  attempts to curse the Israelites but Yaweh (God of Israel)  instead puts blessings/affirmations in his mouth making him nearly as famous a prophet as Moses.

In this episode--greedy Balaam (riding his ass) is on his way to collude with another tribal king to hurt the Israelites when angry God sends his Angel to stop him. At first only the donkey can see the Angel [truth] and refuses to go forward. Balaam beats it mercilessly. The ass is given divine power to speak [power of truth] about the Angel's sword about to cut them down and suddenly Balaam can now see the Angel who tells him it was only thanks to his ass's hesitation that he was not killed.  Balaam repents for the moment. 

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