Hallelujah! We praise the name of the Lord.
     The fiscal year of JCFN ends in June, and we will welcome the new year next month. Thank you for participating in the work of JCFN in various ways. We would like to renew our thinking with the new year, and continue to serve God, returnees, and those involved with returnees.
     May~July is a season of many returnees, including those returning to Japan temporarily. In this month’s newsletter, we deliver to you a workshop held at last year’s Equipper Conference that was especially related to returnees. We will also introduce to you the various gatherings held throughout different regions in Japan, geared towards welcoming returnees. 

To Those of You Going Back to the Land of “O-Sewa-ni Natteimasu”

Makoto Okura
Pastor of San Diego Japanese Christian Church

     When you all go back to Japan, you will need to use “that” phrase.  You know the one – the one that doesn’t translate well –“O-Sewa-ni Natteimasu.”“I humbly express my appreciation for all the care you show to me.”  You cannot go through life in Japan without using this phrase.  Why is it that this phrase doesn’t translate into foreign languages?  Let’s think about it a bit.

     A father tells his now-grown son, “Son, from now on you can’t turn your back on ‘Seken-sama’– the Honorable Collective Eye.”  Company presidents and even sumo champions who get caught in scandal bow deeply, saying, “We’re so sorry to have caused such a ruckus in the ‘Seken’– the Honorable Public Eye.”  This is a scene that is seen so often in Japan.  If somebody who doesn’t know the Japanese well sees this, they might even think that this “Seken” that is referred to must be an individual who wields a great amount of authority.
     However, in reality, we never actually meet with or get to talk to this Mr. Seken, nor do we have any chances to dine together.  This is because this “person” that we refer to as “Mr.”Seken cannot be found, even if you were to look all over Japan. This “existence” is something that makes us think that we need to make sure we are never ashamed of our words and actions when we appear before it – this is the “Collective Eye,” and we Japanese even assign “sama,” an “Honorable Mr.” to this concept, to this presence that doesn’t even physically exist.  We might even go so far as to say that our need to live with a constant awareness of this invisible, impalpable existence could be said to be a religion that is unique to Japan.
     Going back to the first topic – yes, you will be returning to the land of “I humbly express my appreciation for all the care you show to me.”  The meaning behind these words is, “We are all living in the same society,” and to the extent that we are all living in the same space and time, we are part of the same group, so let’s not harm each other – let’s try to get through this thing intact.  This acknowledgment is the starting point and the arena for all of our interactions.
     When those of us who have lived overseas and found faith overseas go back to Japan, we come up against various challenges.  There are probably not many people who will have a hard time in their interactions with the pre-existing religions in Japan.  This is because, in actuality, the religions that exist in Japan do not have much of an effect on the everyday lives of the Japanese.  When we ponder this fact, we come to realize that the thing that we need to look out for is the existence of “Mr. Seken”– the Honorable Collective Eye.  What do you think?  What they should do about funerals and visits to the family grave are the problems that Japanese who go back from overseas are most worried about.  When you look at the root of these issues, however, you see that these are not religious issues per se, but that they relate to the Collective Eye – how those around you perceive you and your actions.
     In Japanese society, the phrase “society (‘Seken’) won’t allow it” is virtually synonymous with“as a human being, that is something that you are not allowed to do.”  At times, “Seken”– the Collective Eye – is sometimes referred to as the “atmosphere.”  With the recent scandal that was exposed regarding moving the world-famous Tsukiji Fish Market to Toyosu, and then finding that the land the new market had been built on had been filled in while it was still contaminated, the governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, said,“When I asked them, ‘Who made this decision, and when?’ the answer was, ‘At each step in the natural flow of things, things just kind of moved forward in atmospheric, unspoken agreements.’”  Yes, this is the land where the unspoken atmosphere of a situation can decide things – Japan.

     We Japanese regard a person who can properly read the atmosphere of a situation, suppress their own thoughts and desires, and adjust themselves to those around them as an “adult.”  So we have no choice but to live in the shadow of this Honorable Collective Eye.  We put a great amount of effort, even changing our thoughts and desires, into “Don’t get laughed at,”“Don’t become a disgrace,” and “Don’t make yourself feel out of place.”
     Paul once said, “The god of this age had blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God”(II Corinthians 4:4).  In Paul’s time, the “god of this age” was most likely referring to the various gods of the many idols that Paul had to face around the city of Corinth.  However, for us as Japanese, I think we can say that the “god of this age” is indeed “Seken-sama,” the Honorable Collective Eye.  If this god, this Collective Eye, blinds our minds, then we cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ.
     In our lives of faith as Christians in Japan, and when we think about sharing the gospel in Japan, the existence of this Collective Eye, of always caring about what society will think, is huge.  It can even make us stop seeing the existence of the God that we believe and worship, so we need to take great care.  Take a look at Japan while you keep the awareness of “Seken-sama” in mind.  After that, try to think about how you can live with God and how you can share this God with the Japanese people.  In this case, you need to set aside the evangelistic techniques that were successful in other countries.  Think about what it means to live a life of faith as a Japanese, and about evangelistic styles that will work in Japan.  You, each and every one of you going back to Japan, are the ones that are in the best position to make these a reality, because you have left Japan once and seen it from the outside, and you have lived in a country without the presence of the Collective Eye.  I pray that you will be able to fight the good fight in the Lord, and I will be waiting to hear good reports coming in from all around Japan.


Special Feature: Regional Returnee Gatherings in Japan

1) Regional Gathering Name
2) Date and Time
3) What kind of gathering?
4) Contact information, Representative name

1) ReChiba (Returnees in Chiba)
2) We gather once every 3 months on a Saturday at various churches throughout the Chiba prefecture!
3) We don’t have a definite meeting place, so you will be able to have fellowship with many people across different churches in Chiba every time!! We always eat good food (usually curry), worship, listen to messages or testimonies, and have small group time. The people that attend are diverse in age and gender so it’s very fun ♫
4) Kana Kato (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


1) Inspa (Inspire Re-Union)
2) Every second Saturday of the month at Kanayama Christian Church in Nagoya City.
3) About 20 returnees from the Tokai region (Aichi, Mie, and Gifu) gather every month! On 7/8 (Sat), we will have our annual BBQ! We welcome anyone any time! For details, please check Facebook or do not hesitate to contact me directly!
4) Ken Ishibashi 090-6144-0703 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


1) ANRK (All Nations Returnees in Kansai)
2) We started gathering monthly on a third or fourth Saturday this year. The location is undecided, but we try our best to gather around Umeda in Osaka (the last two times, we were at Kitahama International Bible Church).
3) This year we are focusing our energy on small groups and plan to liven up returnee gatherings in Kansai. Let’s have times where we can think “Man, I really love Jesus” over and over again! We’re waiting for you~
4) Kuni Onishi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)Facebook: All Nations Returnees in Kansai


1) GiFT (Growing in Fellowship Tokyo)
2) Every other month, we host events in churches or OCC’s in the city so that returnees can develop fruitful relationships!
3) We went to see Christmas lights in December, and we had a lecture regarding agape in May! Our next event is 7/22, where we will have our annual summer celebration on the 8th floor of OCC! You will be encouraged through this gathering of returnees with a variety of events and fun fellowship! Please participate!
4) Erika Mine (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) Facebook Page: GiFT

1) ERF(European Returnees' Fellowship)
2) This annual gathering in fall is geared towards those that have a connection with or are interested in Europe. Separately, we have meals together on an irregular basis. The location is based in Tokyo.
3) From 11/3 (Fri, holiday) ~ 11/14 (Sat), we will hold a one night retreat in Karuizawa. This year we have upgraded from one day to two days! Please come and bring your friends! Let’s have fun~★
4) Hirotaka Nagai (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

1) RIT (Returnees in Tochigi)
2) About the 3rd Saturday of every month (the second for June). We meet in Ohira, Utsunomiya, Nasu, etc.
3) There are many returnees in Tochigi as well. The Jesus we met abroad works in Tochigi too. Let’s pray, support, and encourage one another ☆
4) Hiromi Soma (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


1) RIM(Returnees In Michinoku)
2) There will be a RIM Encounter Camp in October at C-on Kinshuko.
3) Once you attend, you are family ♪ RIM Camp is always filled with a wonderful sense of family and is a speciality(?) of Tohoku, and will occur on a three-day holiday in October.
4) Taiichiro Kusumi (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)


1) RIK (Returnees in Kanagawa)
2) Prayer Meeting Occasionally
3) RIK (Returnees In Kanagawa) will be active again!! We will have Prayer Meeting at J lodge Coffee Shop at Hiratsuka (10 minutes walking from Tokai-daigaku Mae St., Odakyu-Odawara Line). Let's have fellowship and pray together, David Mills who is the owner of the coffee shop is going to talk about his ministry. You, who live in Kanagawa are very welcome. If you are not live in Kanagawa, still you are welcome. Also if you love coffee, please join us!!

equipper conference 18
December 27, 2017 - January 1, 2018
@ Murrieta Hot Springs Christian Conference Center
GRC18: Global Returnees Conference
May 2 - 5, 2018
@ Hotel Evergreen Fuji (Yamanashi)
Returnee Workbook for business people and family

The long-awaited new version of the returnee handbook for business people is here! In addition to information about how to prepare for reverse culture shock, it has information about working in Japanese companies, issues relating to returnee kids, child rearing, Japanese churches, etc. We hope that it will be useful for you to prepare to be witnesses for Christ in Japan. Orders and questions can be directed to the JCFN offices in North America or Japan.  
Japan: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  North America: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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If you are willing to support JCFN ministry with annual support offering of $30 (3,000 yen), you are it!
Please take this opportunity to join in the annual supporting member!!

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