Japan’s bishops' group to hold survey on sexual abuse at Catholic churches

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan (CBCJ) is set to launch a survey on sexual abuse of children by clergies at Catholic churches in Japan as the issue has rocked churches across the globe.
April 08, 2019 | 15:17

Japan’s bishops' group to hold survey on sexual abuse at Catholic churches

Archbishop of Nagasaki Mitsuaki Takami, right, who heads the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan, shakes hands with Katsumi Takenaka, who complained about suffering childhood sexual abuse by a clergyman, in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on April 7, 2019. (Mainichi/Ken Aoshima)

Mitsuaki Takami, archbishop of Nagasaki who heads the CBCJ, revealed the plan on April 7 during an assembly held here by men claiming to be clergy sexual abuse victims.

According to Takami, a meeting of a standing bishop committee was held on April 4, where bishops from across the country agreed to carry out the survey through Japan's 16 dioceses as early as possible. The survey method will be decided at a later date.

The committee also reported that questionnaires on bishops nationwide conducted in 2002 and 2012 found that at least five damage reports had been filed over clergy sexual abuse. The panel decided to launch investigations into those cases.

"We will consider (conducting investigations involving third parties) as necessary," Takami told the Mainichi Shimbun.

Katsumi Takenaka, 62, a public servant in Tokyo who has identified himself as a victim of clergy sexual abuse, testified about his childhood experiences during the assembly in the capital.

When he was a fourth-grade elementary school student, he was sexually abused by a German priest on a daily basis at Salesian Boys' Home, a foster care facility in the Tokyo suburban city of Kodaira for children who cannot live with their guardians. He also recounted how his agony continued into his adulthood whenever that memory flashed back.

"We are sorry we've not been able to do enough and caused you to suffer," Takami told Takenaka as he shook his hands.

When reached by the Mainichi, a representative of Salesian Boys' Home disclosed that Takenaka and one other boy complained about sexual harassment by clergymen and staff at the facility in around 2001, but said, "We couldn't confirm the facts due to a lack of testimony backing their complaints."

In February this year, the Vatican held a conference of bishops from around the globe to discuss responses to the abuse issue. Takami also joined the confab.

Accusations of child sexual abuse at churches and affiliated foster care facilities began to make headlines worldwide after a U.S. newspaper reported in 2002 that a priest in Boston abused at least 100 children.

(Japanese original by Ken Aoshima, City News Department

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