Disasters have an uncanny way of bringing out the best in humanity. In the aftermath of tragedy, compassion, understanding, compatibility, accommodation, and accord usually lead the way forward. That’s when remarkable people stand out in the face of adversity. Therefore, it is extraordinarily unfortunate that Japan’s government choses to dishonor its own citizenry as well as its lost heroes like Dr. Josh Park in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
In the aftermath of Japan’s worst tragedy since WWII, the government of Japan enacted The Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, Act No. 108 promulgated on December 13, 2013. The law “almost limitlessly widens the range of what can be considered confidential,” Nobuyuki Sugiura, Managing Editor, Tokyo Head Office, Asahi Shimbun will continue to respond to the public’s right to know, The Asahi Shimbun, December 7, 2013.
Furthermore, according to the newspaper, Asahi Shimbun: “Every organization has information that it cannot make public. And Japan already had laws to protect such information,” which leads to the question: What’s going on? Did the Fukushima nuclear disaster open up the country to new foreign threats, similar to the raison d’etre for enactment of the Public Security Preservation Law of 1925, which gave the Japanese government carte blanche to outlaw any form of dissent. Thereafter, Japan established the “Thought Police” with branches all over Japan and overseas to monitor activity by alleged socialists and communists (in case you’ve ever wondered where George Orwell got his insane ideas).
After all, the new secrecy law allows bureaucrats and politicians to “designate state secrets to their liking” (Asahi Shimbun). What???
As such, the new secrecy law is 100% subjective, not objective, as the distinction of integrity crumbles apart. Those who leak secrets will face up to 10 years in prison. Does this foreboding message to the citizenry of Japan have anything to do with the Fukushima nuclear disaster? Why is it necessary? Why pass an act that promotes discord, suspicion, mistrust, and lack of confidence in public institutions at the very time when consolation is needed more than ever?
This one enactment by the government of Japan takes the breath out of all of those whom labored so hard to help others in time of dire need. It is a slap in the face, a form of ridicule expressive of totalitarianism at its lowest.
Nevertheless, in stark contrast to the government of Japan taking the low, low, low road in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Dr. Josh Park, who passed away from cancer in 2013, sacrificed his personal health by taking the high road to help the less fortunate in the aftermath of the disaster. His bravery and self-sacrifice symbolizes an eternal memorial at cross-purposes to the government’s acts of intimidation in the face of horrendous tragedy, which, in and of itself, may be the final tragedy.
Regrettably, in the midst of horrendous tragedy the country’s stripped of its élan vital as its soul vanishes into thin air.
Dr. Josh Park
In 2012 Josh Park earned a doctorate in ministry from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in California. He passed away on June 28th, 2013 after a lingering battle with cancer. He was 61.
For nearly twenty years, Dr. Park spent countless hours in parks and in train stations caring for Tokyo’s homeless, always there with snacks, hot coffee, rice balls as he converted his backpack into a stool, sitting and consoling wayward street people.
He started Yoyogi Park Sidewalk Chapel with a local Japanese pastor. He saved lives; he converted lost souls to a better way, a bright shining light, he preached the word of God, and he gave his life to a better cause. He took the high road.
His son sent a compassionate letter on June 20th: “I recently read your article titled “What’s Really Going On At Fukushima.” I just wanted to take the time to thank you for your brave and honest reporting concerning the Tohoku disaster that has relatively been ignored by the mainstream media. It’s shocking to see how blind the global community is concerning this crisis, and journalists like you are so vital in breaking that veil of lies spun by Japan and the nuclear power industry.”
“My late father was one of the first volunteers to help with the cleanup and disaster relief….” As a full time IMB missionary for Japan, he was asked to help. “There was absolutely no mention of radiation hazards, and none of the team members were equipped with the required protective gear… Now my father and his co-leader, another full time missionary… passed away from a rare form of cancer. They were both in their 60s… their love for the Japanese people spurred them to take on the responsibility. They were both cleared medically to help, and neither had cancer before….”
Ever since his loss, a misty image of Dr. Josh Park, the man who always had a hot drink and something to eat for those in the street surely hovers over Yoyogi Park Sidewalk Chapel. Assuredly, if a higher power is actually a part of life’s journey, then a vague, opaque, vaporous image of Dr. Park must be there. It is likely that many of the heartbroken homeless have already seen this ethereal image of Dr. Josh Park whilst standing before Yoyogi Park Sidewalk Chapel and felt something special in their hearts as a tears stream down their cheeks.
Dr. Josh Park touched more lives than anybody will ever know. After all, nobody was readily available to count the number of people he cared for and pulled out of the abyss, rescued from certain suicide, given renewed hope, a guiding light towards self-respect, something to strive for beyond wallowing in sorrow. Yes, his compassionate strength touched tens, hundreds, maybe thousands, nobody will ever know how many for sure because when a man nobly, selflessly, benevolently gives of himself to save even one, it is like a miracle, as if the clouds spread apart exposing a golden, glowing hand, reaching down and blessing the chivalry of those who give of themselves.
Eternally, his personal story is woven into the fabric of the streets, part of the oral history of the street people of Tokyo like Masahi Takahashi, a homeless man who lost his job and lost all self-respect, but today, thanks to Dr. Park, Masahi Takahashi is janitor at the homeless church, a group leader of homeless Bible study in the park. And he mentors young homeless men. He’s rediscovered his courage, his being, self-worth. Because of Dr. Park, he reconstituted self-respect.
Is it possible to find a more worthy accomplishment than helping, assisting, guiding someone to find their true essence, their mission in life, a reason for living? Dr. Josh Park’s mission is a testament, a tribute to this innate goodness within humanity.
Whereas, far too often, society at large, when unwittingly organized to legislate, is shallow, insincere, contrived, hollow, and scared, leading to coercive measures that bully people, intimidate the citizenry, and browbeat society, all of which is symptomatic of weakness, not strength. When tragedy strikes, a nation needs strength of leadership, not cowardly acts to hide behind.
Above all, the Fukushima nuclear disaster brought out the best in individuals whilst exposing the worst of authorities. In striking contrast, Dr. Josh Park was brave, a strong man who was not scared.
Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org