Japanese bishop of tsunami-hit diocese is safe

March 12, 2011

The bishop of a diocese in northern part of Japan devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is said to be safe, according to an article from the Anglican Communion News Service.

Bishop John Hiromichi Kato of the Diocese of Tohoku managed to get a message out to say that he is OK, but according Rikkyo University professor the Rev. Renta Nishihara no one has managed to contact the bishop directly.

Nishihara added that Kato had revealed many churches of Tohoku, including the cathedral, suffered heavy damage.

This news comes as Japan awakes the morning after one of the country's largest ever earthquakes killed more than 400 people and caused 215,000 to flee their homes. (Estimates place the death toll at least 1,000 people, most drowned by the wall of water that swept across the northeast coast of the island nation.)

Throughout the night messages of support and offers of help for the Nippon Sei Ko Kai, the Anglican Church in Japan, have come from around the Anglican Communion.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said that the Episcopal Church is praying with and for the people of Japan as that nation "seeks the lost and begins to bury the dead.

"May they rest in peace, and may all those who mourn find comfort," she said. "We know the aftermath will be long and difficult, and we assure you of our solidarity. We are grateful that most other parts of the Pacific have withstood the passage of the first tsunami. May we all be reminded that we live on a fragile earth, in continual process of creation and destruction, and that we share a common responsibility for healing wherever we are able."

Those thoughts were echoed by Anglican Church of Canada Archbishop Fred Hiltz who wrote to Archbishop Nathaniel Uematsu of the Nippon Sei Ko Kei saying that "we hold before God all those who are engaged in the relief efforts as well as you and all who are ministering to the needs of a stricken, grieving nation."

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams sent a message of condolence to Uematsu expressing support and prayers for the Japanese people.

Messages of condolence and support also came from Anglicans at all levels. Members of the International Anglican Women's Network from earthquake-hit New Zealand, the Philippines and the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & the Middle East sent messages to their Japanese sisters letting them know they were thinking and praying for them and their country.

One said: "We add our sincere prayers to you all in Japan and all the inflicted areas. We pray to our Lord that Tsunami does not spread to other parts... Our thoughts and hearts are with you at these difficult times... but nothing, nothing is impossible in the eyes of God. We will continue to pray for one and all and we also send sympathies to all those that are bereaved."