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5th International Day of Prayer, Amsterdam 2003

Testimony by
Hiroshi Tatsuchi, Japan

“Japan will be converted!”

My name is Hirosi Tatsuchi and the person standing next to me is my wife Schiko.
We are presently on our honeymoon. Why we are standing here now, sweating and with stage fright, I do not know. I’m surprised about it myself.

Only a week ago, on the 31st of May, the day of the Lady of all Nations, we were married. Last Wednesday we had the honor to be present at the papal audience in Rome; consequently, we made a pilgrimage to Amsterdam, and now we are here in the middle of the Day of Prayer. I have to say that I am very happy. I am sure that it was “the Lady of all Nations” who has arranged everything for us in this way.

My country, Japan, has 130 million inhabitants. Of these there are 450,000 Catholics, which means that only 1 in 300 Japanese is Catholic. I, too, grew up in this pagan environment. Like most Japanese I did know a few things about Christianity, but more in the sense of general education.

When I was a student I traveled through Europe for a month. All by myself I visited various countries. One day I walked into a Marian Church in Munich. I kneeled down before the statue of the Mother of God and prayed for the first time in my life. I do not know why. Obviously, I had no relationship with the Mother of God. But in this moment I simply wanted to talk to her and to be with her. I stayed for a long time in this church, alone with her in the silence.
That was the beginning of my way to the faith and after two years I received the Sacrament of Baptism. After my baptism I traveled often to Akita, the famous pilgrimage place in Japan. There I learned to know personally the stigmatic visionary, Sr. Agnes Sasagawa.
Through Akita I learned of the apparitions in Amsterdam and about the title of the Mother of God as Coredemptrix.

As far as faith is concerned, the history of the Japanese Christians is tragic. Under the reign of heathen rulers heavy persecutions broke out that lasted for three hundred years and nearly caused the extermination of Christianity. Historians report, “In every Japanese town martyr blood has flown.” Did you know that in 1945 70% of all Japanese Catholics were living in Nagasaki? It was called the “Catholic city of Japan”. Now you may perhaps ask yourselves, “Why of all places did the nuclear bomb have to fall in Nagasaki?” I have also asked myself this question. But, the better I understood the redeeming worth of the sufferings of the innocent, the better I have understood why God gave his permission for this to happen in the Japanese history.
In spite of the godlessness of my country I can now believe that all the spilled blood will some day bring about the conversion of the entire nation. After all, it is in Amsterdam that the Mother of God promises us, “Japan will be converted.” And I believe in that!

In connection with the Rosary I would like to tell you something beautiful. For not only in Nagasaki, but also in Hiroshima, a nuclear bomb fell. Hiroshima had to be swept away so to hit the Japanese war machine destructively hard.
Mary, the Queen of the Holy Rosary, miraculously protected a small community of four Jesuit priests living only eight blocks from the center of the explosion. Father Hubert Schiffer was thirty years old when the bomb fell in Hiroshima, where he was assigned to the Parish of the Assumption of Mary. He gave a testimony before a crowd of ten thousand.
“It was an unimaginably brilliant, blinding, intense light. Suddenly, a terrific explosion filled the air with a single bursting thunderclap. An invisible force lifted me from my chair, hurling me through the air, like a leaf in a gust of autumn wind. The light suddenly disappeared. All was darkness, silence, nothingness. I was lying face-down on broken, splintered pieces of wood, blood running down my face. I could neither see nor hear anything. I must be dead, I thought. Then I heard my own voice. That was the most frightening experience of all, because it showed me that I was still alive, and convinced me that some horrible catastrophe had occurred.
“My three fellow brothers and I spent the whole day in this inferno of flames and smoke before a rescue party was able to reach us. All four were wounded, but through the grace of God we survived.”

Humanly speaking, it is unexplainable why those four Jesuits were the only survivors within a one mile radius of the explosion. It remains a mystery to the experts that none of the priests were injured by the radiation, and that the parish house, which was only eight blocks from the center of the explosion, remained standing even though all surrounding buildings were completely destroyed. Also, according to the statements of the two hundred American and Japanese doctors and scientists who examined Father Schiffer, it cannot be explained why, thirty-three years after the explosion, he was still living in good health without any of the usual after-effects of overexposure to radiation.
In amazement, the doctors and scientists heard again and again the same response to their many questions, “As missionaries we were trying to live the message of Our Lady of Fatima; we therefore prayed the Rosary every day.”

This is the hopeful message of Hiroshima: The prayer of the Rosary is more powerful than the nuclear bomb. Today in the center of the rebuilt city of Hiroshima, there is a Marian Memorial Shrine. Its fifteen glass windows depict the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, which are prayed there day and night.

That is what I wanted to tell you of my native country, to encourage you.
And something else: Ever since I have known the Lady of All Nations I turn to her when I have some kind of problem, also in my private life, as if to a mother. And she has never let me down. For this reason, it is for us a great joy to be able to join in the work for the Lady of All Nations.