Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Filipinos in Northern Japan after the March 11 Earthquake: A Public Lecture by Dr. Takefumi Terada

Takefumi Terada, PhD
Professor and Dean
Faculty of Global Studies
Sophia University

26 January 2015 (Monday)
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
 Third World Studies Center
Lower Ground Floor
Palma Hall
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
University of the Philippines-Diliman

In 2011, a few days after the disasters of March 11, a considerable number of Filipinos were evacuated to Tokyo from the Sendai and Fukushima areas along with their children. Approximately 150 were received at several evacuation centers located at churches in Tokyo. The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power accident at Fukushima undeniably affected the lives of these people, most of whom are women married to Japanese.

A significant transformation that is currently visible among them, is the fact that many Filipino women now appear at various Catholic churches in the Tohoku area to attend mass. In certain places, reciting the rosary in groups, or block rosary, has been introduced.

Prior to March 11, no Filipino priest was employed in the Catholic Sendai Diocese, (which comprises the prefectures of Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima). Realizing the importance of organizing a regular Tagalog or English mass for the Filipinos, the Catholic Church has decided to assign two priests, namely a Filipino and an Indonesian who is fluent in Tagalog, to form work at Ofunato, and to serve other Filipino communities as well as other foreigners in the devastated areas.

The Filipinos for a variety of reasons had earlier faced several obstacles in coming to church and attending mass. However, the churches in their respective vicinities have been transformed into centers for gatherings and networking hubs. The sense of being a Filipino in Japan and a Catholic is certainly awakened through the months following the March 11.

The Filipino community of Shinjo Church in Yamagawa will also be discussed. 


Takefumi Terada, PhD is currently professor and dean of the Faculty of Global Studies, Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. His major areas of research include folk Catholicism and popular religiosity in the Philippines, and Christian churches in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation period. Formation of Filipino communities within the Catholic Church in Japan is also a topic of his field research. Since March 2011, he has been working on Filipinos and Filipino communities in northern part of Japan affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Dr. Terada obtained his PhD from the Philippine Studies Program of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, and served as president of the Japan Society for Southeast Asian Studies (2011-2012).

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