Japan

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The First Four Brothers: (from Left to Right) Br. Marcel, Br. Laurent, Br. Daniel, and Br. Liguori

22 OCTOBER 1932 - PRESENT

Excerpts from Br. Andre Labelle’s article, “Japan - 80 Years of Lasallian Presence"

Four Brothers from French speaking Canada (Montreal) came to Hakodate in northern Japan, at the invitation of the Canadian Dominican Fathers responsible of the Catholic Church in that region in order to open a Catholic school for boys in that city. In 1934, a nice and wide piece of land was bought and plans were discussed. Unfortunately for various social reasons, to open a school was impossible, and the Brothers transferred to Sendai in 1936. A small language school was opened there, but soon, in 1936 and 1940, two of the Brothers were sent to different cities in Manchuria (China) joining other Brothers coming directly from Canada to teach in seminaries held by French or Canadian missionaries. A third Brother of the four was sent with the first Japanese postulant to Indochina, for his novitiate, and remained in Kuala Lumpur so he could come back with him at the end of the novitiate in 1941. But in 1941, war began in South East Asia.

“The foreign missionaries were incarcerated in concentration camps, either in Japan or Manchuria from December 1941 to August 1945. One of the two Brothers in Manchuria died in 1943 in the concentration camp. As for the Brother in Malaysia, he was not allowed to go back to Japan till after the war. Those four years were, for all, very difficult ones. It was only in 1946 that a work began for a new. First, an orphanage in Sendai in 1948 came up, then a school in the south of Japan, Kagoshima, in 1950. It was followed by a Brothers’ House in Tokyo, with an attached university students dormitory, which later were transferred to Hino, a suburb of Tokyo. And, at last, the desired school of Hakodate could open in 1960, after 28 years of waiting. Among those 28 years, 10 years were needed for the land, bought before the war, to be given back to the Brothers. And with God’ grace, organized by our Alumni, the school celebrated, in 2010, its golden jubilee.