President Obama boys to Japanese officials

President Obama bows to Japanese officials

An association of pastors in Japan has written an open letter to leaders of the Group of Seven nations meeting in Japan to discuss their worldwide agenda this week, asking them to affirm religious freedom.

By not visiting a Shinto shrine.

The pastors in the Pastors Association for Truth and Justice noted that Japan’s ranking on a freedom index has declined in recent years.

“We kindly request that you refrain from visiting the Ise Shrine in any capacity and clearly stand up for the fundamentals of religious and personal freedom under the law,” the letter asks.

The San Antonio News Express reports that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans a trip with his Group of Seven “counterparts” to the shrine.

“Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians” provides documented accounts of attacks on Christians worldwide, and it tells of the perseverance and courage of men and women who suffer abuse because of their faith in Jesus Christ

“The emperor of Japan was the head priest of Ise Shrine until 1945 while Shinto was the state religion and the emperor was said to be a living god. The shrine is still headed by a member of the imperial family,” the report said. “The Japanese imperial family was once believed to be the direct descendants of the sun goddess. Rituals at Ise Shrine are intended for the imperial family, and its current head priest is Emperor Akihito’s elder sister, Atsuko Ikeda, 88.”

The pastors’ open letter, however, said their concern over the visit comes from the history of persecution of Christians in Japan.

“It was under the name of the Shinto religion of which the emperor is the high priest that hundreds of Christians and others were imprisoned and … died before and during World War II because they refused to worship the emperor,” they said.

And recently, they wrote, “There has been a dramatic revival of this system that caused havoc to the world during World War II causing grave concern to those who respect liberty and freedom of thought.”

A spokesman for the organization, who asked that his name not be used, told WND that people need to contact their own government officials to discourage a visit to the Shinto shrine.

Last year when the summit was awarded to Japan, the Japan Times reported that Abe at that point already was planning to bring world leaders to his religious home.

“I hope world leaders will feel the rich culture and tradition and beautiful nature” there, Abe said at the time, the report said.

The Times reported, “He said he hopes the leaders will visit the shrine, which dates back around 2,000 years and is dedicated to the ancestral deities of the imperial family.”

It continued, “Abe has often described how the atmosphere on the premises makes him feel fresh and focused. Like other prime ministers, Abe has made it a custom to visit the shrine when the New Year’s holidays are over.

“It is also no secret that Abe, along with 288 other Diet members, is a member of Shinto Seiji Renmei, a political group that promotes Shintoism, the Imperial family and lobbies the government to hold a state-sponsored ceremony to honor the war dead at Tokyo’s controversial Yasukuni Shrine.”

A Bloomberg commentary by Isabel Reynolds explained how the plan to take world leaders to the shrine is Abe’s “latest instance of his promotion of Shintoism.”

“Abe is much more focused on Shinto than almost any other postwar prime minister,” John Breen, a history professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, told the columnist.

“He is a key member of Shinto Seiji Renmei, a political association that has as its aim the location of Shinto at the heart of government.”

WND reported six years ago about a meeting between U.S. President Obama and Japan’s emperor, in which Obama bowed to the Japanese figurehead.

A subsequent WND/Wenzel Poll revealed that nearly two of three Americans believe the U.S. was more likely to be targeted by a hostile military or a terrorist group because of Obama’s policies and actions.

A commentary submitted to WND by a pastor’s group spokesman on the issue pointed out that Obama’s bow was “bizarre by any standards.”

He explained, “In Japanese culture such a bow is never done and if done is a symbol of obeisance from a subject to a sovereign.”

He also noted that Obama’s plans to visit Hiroshima, is seen as “America apologizing for World War II and in particular the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

He wrote, “Shame on you, Barack Obama. Do not go to Hiroshima.”

Reuters reported Abe made a pilgrimage to the shrine just before the summit.

The G7 includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

“Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians” provides documented accounts of attacks on Christians worldwide, and it tells of the perseverance and courage of men and women who suffer abuse because of their faith in Jesus Christ


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