Strengthen and protect, O God, all those who suffer for
their fidelity to Jesus Christ; that, like your servant Toyohiko Kawaga, they
might persevere in seeking and serving Christ in all persons, and work
tirelessly for the advancement of your kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ
our Lord, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit be all honor and glory now and
for ever. Amen.
“Toyohiko Kagawa was born in 1888 in Kobe, Japan.
Orphaned early, he lived first with his widowed stepmother and then with an
uncle. He enrolled in a Bible class in order to learn English, and in his teens
he became a Christian and was disowned by his family. In his late teens, he
attended Presbyterian College in Tokyo for three years. He decided that he had
a vocation to help the poor, and that in order to do so effectively he must
live as one of them. Accordingly, from 1910 to 1924 he lived for all but two
years in a shed six feet square (about 180 cm) in the slums of Kobe. In 1912 he
unionized the shipyard workers. He spent two years (1914-1916) at Princeton
studying techniques for the relief of poverty. In 1918 and 1921 he organized
unions among factory workers and among farmers. He worked for universal male
suffrage (granted in 1925) and for laws more favorable to trade unions.
In 1923 he was asked to supervise social work in
Tokyo. His writings began to attract favorable notice from the Japanese
government and abroad. He established credit unions, schools, hospitals, and
churches, and wrote and spoke extensively on the application of Christian
principles to the ordering of society.
He founded the Anti-War League, and in 1940 was
arrested after publicly apologizing to China for the Japanese invasion of that
country. In the summer of 1941 he visited the United States in an attempt to avert
war between Japan and the US. After the war, despite failing health, he devoted
himself to the reconciliation of democratic ideals and procedures with
traditional Japanese culture. He died in Tokyo 23 April 1960.”*