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Interview Portuguese Spanish    
Year 4 - N° 185 – November 21, 2010
Nagano (Japão)
Leonardo Rocha - l.rocha1989@gmail.com

Interview: Mauro Pumar and Rogério Schmitt, in Japan 

“The future of Spiritism in Japan lies with our children” 

Two enthusiastic Spiritist leaders in Japan talk about the
prospects for Spiritism there


Mauro Pumar is a Spiritist lecturer and member of CIMEJ, a Spiritist directive organ in Japan. Rogério Schmitt is one of the directors of a Spiritist Centre in Tokyo – named after Francisco Cândido Xavier – and he is the coordinator of a project that provides assistance to Latin American inmates in Japan. Both represented the Japanese Spiritist Movement in the Sixth World Spiritist Congress, held in Valencia, in October. 

O Consolador: Mauro, how did you feel by representing Japan in an international meeting? 

First of all, thanks for the opportunity of this interview. I had an amazing experience at the conference, I never could have imagined I would take part in a meeting of such magnitude, representing the Spiritist Movement of a particular country. It is a big responsibility, a bit scary, really. I was touched by everyone’s interest, by so many questions asked about the development of Spiritism in Japan. 

O Consolador: Rogério, how is it to be a Spiritist in Japan? Is it very different from being a Spiritist in Brazil? How did you become a Spiritist? 

I come from a Spiritist family, but distanced myself from the Doctrine when I moved to Japan. I became obsessed about material things, like so many Brazilians in Japan, but as a result I had a number of problems. Suffering brought me back to a Spiritist Centre, in 2002. The differences between Japan and Brazil are huge. To begin with, we work very long hours over here, 12 to 16 hours a day, Monday to Friday. There’s also the language barrier, which makes us feel completely powerless. We need be a lot more disciplined and determined over here. 

O Consolador: Mauro, you were part of the Spiritist movement in Rio. How surprised were you by what you found here? 

I was somehow surprised. Most Brazilians who arrive in Japan find something very different to what they imagined. But I read a lot, I accessed the Internet and gathered as much information I could about Spiritism in Japan before coming over. A useful website for me was www.spiritism.jp. But still many things came as a surprise. I didn’t know the lectures and other meetings were all in Portuguese. Having to take my shoes off before coming into our Spiritist Centre was also a bit of a surprise. Also, the simultaneous translation of the prayers, all that. Spiritism is still in its early stages in Japan, but I met here a number of people with a good level of information, I made new friends and a warm welcome – a pleasant surprise to me. 

O Consolador: Rogério, tell us about your main duties in the Spiritism in Japan. 

We meet every Sunday to study the main Spiritist books, we have lectures and study groups about the main themes of Spiritism, which are translated simultaneously to Japanese. We also help the homeless; once a month we take clothes, food, medicines and a message from the Gospel to about 450 people. We also provide assistance to prisoners of various nationalities, sending them Spiritist books as well as clothes, prescription glasses, magazines, newspapers. And we have a project called Piá, which sends clothes to poor children in Brazil and in the Philippines. The main obstacle in Japan is the lack of free time among our workers, followed by the high turn out, with so many coming and going. 

O Consolador: Mauro, what were your best memories of the World Spiritist Congress? 

All the lectures were very good – Divaldo Franco, Raul Teixeira. It is difficult to highlight a particular one, but I would mention two people who received a standing ovation: Dr Sergio Felipe de Oliveira, who talked about mediumship, and Dr Maria de La Gracia Ender, who spoke about charity. However, nothing touched me more than seeing 1,807 people together, people from 36 different nationalities, watching together the film Nosso Lar (Astral City). It was like looking ahead into the future of humankind. 

O Consolador: Rogério, what would you like to highlight about the meeting? 

It was very useful and productive for me to attend a meeting of the International Spiritist Council, to gather information about the challenges of Spiritism in 33 different countries. I was very glad and touched by the warm reception we got. Who knows one day we will be able to have an official Spiritist Federation and Japan and even host the World Congress? 

O Consolador: Mauro, what are the biggest challenges faced by Spiritism in Japan? 

The biggest challenge is the cultural and language barrier. In Japan, 99% of the people are either Buddhists or Xintoist. There are a natural scepticism against a Doctrine coming from the West and praising a Jesus Christ they barely know. This is a country of rituals and customs, and Spiritism goes against all that. We will need a great deal of perseverance. The language is another huge obstacle. It took six years of hard work by our friend Tomoh Sumi to translate The Gospel According to Spiritism. We have set up an organ, CIMEJ, to try to exchange experiences and integrate Spiritism in Japan. We began operating in February this year. 

O Consolador: Rogério, you also have an annual meeting of Spiritist organisations in Japan, ECOMEJ. Tell us more about it. 

We had a special meeting this year, with a bigger number of groups taking part. We also had an opportunity to share the information from the World Congress. In this year’s meeting, last month, we for the first time had a live Internet link. 

O Consolador: Mauro, you also had a special meeting with the directors of several Spiritist groups in Japan, at the end of ECOMEJ…

We had a wonderful atmosphere, a direct consequence of the positive moment the Japanese Spiritist Movement is going through. All groups feel they need to gather under the umbrella of a directive, official organism. The meeting helped us reinforce that purpose. We have set up the targets and the agenda for 2011 and we also have decided to carry out a research with the various groups to gather their views. 

O Consolador: Rogério, both of you mentioned in Valencia and in the recent ECOMEJ meeting that the evangelisation of children was key for the future of Spiritism in Japan. Why? 

The future of Spiritism in Japan most certainly lies with our children. Many of them will stay in Japan, will settle down. They are studying in Japanese schools, learning the language and the customs. The exchange of our children with the next generation of Japanese will come naturally. That is why it is so important that we teach them the Doctrine. It is hard work, as many of the children speak very little Portuguese, but we are doing it, bit by bit, with the help of new text books for children in Japanese. 

O Consolador: Finally, Mauro, what are the next steps for the Japanese Spiritist Movement and for yourself? 

The Movement needs to get organised urgently – more exchange of information between the various groups, we need to get together for the translations, to make sure everything we do is in accordance with Japanese legislation. We must get together in order to host events – so many people told us they would love to come and visit Japan… We need to carry on with the CIMEJ’s work. As for myself, I am really optimistic about the future of Spiritism in this country. However, I will go back to Brazil, for professional reasons. God permitting, and with the agreement of all my friends in Japan, I will continue to contribute somehow. This cause, thanks to Jesus, doesn’t belong to us. There will always be room for sharing and loving, wherever we are. I must thank all of those who gave me the opportunity to work, I thank them all for their friendship and for all they have done for me in all these years I have live in Japan. 

O Consolador: Rogério, your final thoughts, please. 

I would like to thank O Consolador for this opportunity. Also my thank you to everyone at the International Spiritist Council, CEI, all the 33 countries that took part in the Congress, for all attention paid to us in Valencia. May God our Father enlighten us and may Jesus, our Master, be always with us, helping us along, so that we can build a better future for humankind. Thank you very much, all my love to you. 



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