This year was unlike any other. The Tokyo Olympics, anticipated by millions for years, was to have begun on the same day as the Osaka March for Life. But the virus has pushed the Olympics back by at least a year, and may end up leading to the events’ being cancelled permanently.
The virus kept just about everyone else away too. The rain did the rest. There were very few others in the streets. No pagans celebrating their rituals. Hardly any secularists even—creeping totalitarianism everywhere is making everyone afraid just to go outside.
After the Tokyo March for Life the March organizer, Mr. Masa’aki Ikeda, convened an online event to help spread the good news of the pro-life message worldwide. About 200 people joined the live online feed on YouTube. Dr. Ligaya Acosta of Human Life International gave a stirring address during the online “March” and explained how important it is to defend life, and how the culture of death attacks every member of the human family.
Mr. Ikeda drew his inspiration for the Tokyo March for Life from the March for Life in Washington, DC, and Dr. Acosta works for a major pro-life organization in the United States. But it is important to keep in mind that the abortion situation in Japan is very different from that in the West.
For example, abortion in Japan is still listed as a crime in the penal code. The code provides for no penalty for performing or procuring an abortion, but the law nevertheless recognizes that abortion is a criminal activity.
Michael J. Matt covered last year's pro-life March in Tokyo as part of the RTV series:
HIDDEN CATHOLICS: In Search of Tradition in Japan"
This definition reflects the general understanding here that abortion is not in any way something good, something to be desired. It is almost universally understood in Japan that abortion is indeed a crime. In other words, Japan retains a minimal sense of the natural law. There are few, if any, extreme ideologues or feminists here who would argue that abortion is a positive activity. Making an evil into a good is not a common practice in Japan. The outright denial of the natural law is quite rare.
Japanese women who have abortions know this better than anyone. They weep for the children whose lives have been snuffed out in their wombs. These women pray for, and even to, the children who have been killed. It is unheard of for anyone to claim that what has been done is a good thing. Everyone knows it is wrong.
Another big difference between Japan and the West is that abortion in Japan was imposed by a conquering military. The United States occupying forces after World War II pushed for the passage of something called the Eugenic Protection Law (Yūsei Hogohō), which was finally passed in 1948 as part of the strategy of the Occupation to reduce the number of Japanese people and thus deprive an enemy of the wherewithal to wage war.
The Japanese authorities offered little resistance to this law, because widespread rapes by American servicemen led to a serious social problem of broken women and abandoned children.
Abortion under these circumstances became routine. In fact, after the passage of the Eugenic Protection Law, Japan became what many darkly refer to as an “abortion paradise”. Abortion tourism to Japan became common. Japan became, only half-wittingly, an abattoir for the world’s unborn. Part of an entire generation of the children of Japan and of the world was destroyed here, with the connivance of the local authorities and under the direction of the US military.
During the worst years of the killing, there were more than one million abortions in Japan every year.
Today, even though the population is declining and the birth rate is very low, there are still some 100,000 abortions a year performed here.
What this means is that, even though nobody thinks that this is a good situation, it persists all the same. Abortion is not right, but it is framed as a right, and so it continues.
Why does this situation continue? Abortion is understood here to be a crime, legally and conceptually, and yet it goes on. This is an important thing for Catholics, for Westerners, to consider.
Unlike Western countries like France, the United States, and virtually every other Anglo-European nation, Japan is not apostate. Japan was never more than slightly Catholic. It has always been pagan, despite the best efforts of the brave missionaries who gave their lives for Japan’s conversion, and the countless more brave and faithful Japanese who died here for the Faith.
Interestingly, Japan, and other pagan nations, tend to admit that abortion is wrong while also practicing it nonetheless. Abortion is an evil here, and everyone says so. But that evil is somehow socially tolerated. There has always been abortion in Japan.
Apostate countries blaspheme with great skill due to their experience in having once known, embraced, lived, and loved the Faith. Apostate countries call black white, evil good.
Pagan countries, however, do not practice such mental gymnastics. Without much experience in the Catholic Faith, without access to Revelation as in the West, pagans have no solid reason to refuse abortion absolutely. Society turns a blind eye and evil passes unmolested in many cases.
Evil can always find a thousand excuses. A baby will be a slave, will be poor, will be unloved—so better to kill him or her before he or she is born.
This baby has a defective body. Kill it. This baby has a defective mind. Abandon the child in the mountains.
This baby was born to a prostitute. This baby was born to an unwed mother. Shame, shame—kill the child to remove the shame.
Evil makes its own reasons. Accommodating this is the pagan way.
Babies are of course seen here as a gift from heaven. Having many children was once considered a boon for the clan. A healthy household had many daughters and sons. A kind of low-grade polygamy, a tolerance for adultery and dalliance, was the norm.
Defending life absolutely requires absolute moral precepts, though, which these the pagan countries lack.
Buddhism may even have made things worse. Buddhism teaches the transmigration of souls, so the logic clearly follows that killing a child will simply allow him or her to be reborn to another family. Buddhism also teaches moral relativism, the equality of all life from the grass of the fields to the people who work in those fields. At best, all “sentient beings” are held sacred. To kill a fish is alike to killing a man. And so forth.
In short, pagan countries have a sense of the natural law, but they have a cultural method, relativism and studied indifference, for trying to get around it. Killing a baby is bad. Nobody argues with the proposition, because the natural law has a native force. But well, hemming and hawing and doing this or that a little bit differently than the natural law demands—that is the pagan way. As long as society somehow keeps functioning, nobody causes too much of a fuss.
This explains why I, as a Catholic, march for life in Japan.
We can appeal to the natural law all we want. The natural law exists in Japan just as it does anywhere else there are human beings. It is wonderful to illuminate the natural law, to show how it instructs all human hearts. But the natural law has been ignored here from time immemorial. The natural law does not convert societies. Only Christ can do that. Only Holy Mother Church can turn paganism toward the good, or, more precisely, can convert pagans to the One True Faith.
Imagine that we win a victory in Japan for the natural law. Imagine that the natural law prevails. Well, then we are right back where we started. Abortion is illegal—of course it is, it is clearly a crime. But everyone still does it anyway.
The natural law did not die for our sins. Christ did. As Catholics, are we perhaps forgetting this?
In our arrogance as Westerners, we somehow still believe that we are still Christians. No. Look around. Our countries have apostasized. We are all in mission territory in the West. We don’t have any residue of Christianity, we have only its satanic inversion. We have the dark hand of primordial justice keeping us in line now. We have the policeman, and not the priest.
We, like pagans, cannot forget the natural law. But we preach it now as though it were the same as preaching Christ crucified. It is not the same. We must march for life as Catholics.
I march for life to defend life, and I do this because I am a Catholic. I do this because of my faith, because of the Holy Faith in which, by the Grace of God, I was instructed. I want to share this with the world. Not the natural law, but Jesus and His Church.
Sometimes prolifers defend life on natural law principles. The strategy is certainly understandable. But in doing so have we not perhaps interiorized modernist teachings by tacitly arguing that faith is private and so we must keep it to ourselves?
As a prolifer, I march for babies because the love of Christ impels me. That is why. It is Christ Who gives me the Grace.
To be alive, to have life abundantly and to have it eternally, please God, we must be in a state of Grace. We must be baptized and living as one with Jesus Christ. For Catholics, all who are not baptized are dead in sin. But we are called to eternal life—everyone, without exception. We are made by God to live!
To be prolife, then, we must be Catholics. We must burn in our hearts to share eternal life with everyone. We must love our brothers and sisters enough to show them the fullness of Truth, the Faith, and not just the shadows of the natural law.
We receive the sacraments as flagging, as the dead, and are brought back to life. Prolife means living in Christ. That is the gift to which we must all aspire. We must not refuse to share it with anyone. That is our highest calling as human beings.
And we must also preach the terrible truth that to take a child’s life is to send him to hell with all the other unbaptized. Abortion is not just taking a life, it is producing eternal misery. It is a choice, to be sure. We all face this choice. God has put life and death before us, and we must choose one.
God did not put life and the natural law before us, but life and death. Death is death eternally. Life is life eternally in Jesus Christ.
This is why I march for life.