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In Memoriam of Prof. Kentaro Shiuzuki

WSCF East Asia Secretary from 1957 to 1970

Prof. Kentaro ShiuzukiOn July 9, 2010, Professor Kentaro Shiuzuki died in Tokyo, Japan due to pneumonia at age 86. This article was prepared by the Asia-Pacific Regional Office through the help of SCM Japan senior friends in memory and tribute to Dr. Kentaro Shiuzuki. He is survived by his wife of 53 years Tomoko and his son Isaku, both living in Japan.

Professor Kentaro Shiuzuki was born on the 21st of February 1924 in Japan to Toshie and Kesato Shiuzuki. At the young age of 19, Kentaro met a Methodist pastor in Japan who introduced him Christianity. This initial encounter led him to be baptized as a Christian at the Kanazawa Methodist Church, six months after second World War began in 1941. During the war, he refused to worship at the Imperial Shrine and was severely punished by this act, where he was forced to do labor at the Osaka Port. When the war ended in 1945, he openly joined Bible study group and started to organize young people in the university. After graduating from the Department of Technology of the Osaka Imperial University with a degree in Metallurgy in 1947, and participating in the Summer Seminar of Student YMCA in the same year, he applied and became the Secretary of Student YMCA or Student Christian Movement (SCM) of Japan.

Kentaro’s participation in the life of WSCF began when in 1948 he first met John R. Mott, the founder of WSCF. Soon after this meeting, he developed keen interest in the vision of the ecumenical student movement and participated in the 1948 WSCF Ceylon Leader’s Meeting and the 1949 WSCF Asian Regional Council Meeting. The theological debates and discussions in the WSCF inspired him to take-up further training in theology. In 1951, he left Japan to begin his Bachelor of Theology Degree at Yale University and completed this in 1954. Upon his completion, he immediately returned to Tokyo to continue his work as Secretary of Student YMCA.

In September 1957, Kentaro moved to Geneva, Switzerland to join the WSCF Global Team as Secretary for East Asia Desk until 1965. From 1965 to 1970, he returned to Tokyo, Japan, as WSCF Secretary for the work with university teachers in Asia. As WSCF Asia Secretary for 13 years, he became instrumental in the difficult task of developing and strengthening the work with university teachers and educators in the Asia region in the post World War II period and at a time when the “role of Christians in the Academic World” was a contentious topic of debate among the churches and the university world. Kentaro also prepared the ground work for the WSCF regionalized structure in Asia-Pacific which began to take shape in 1968. In 1970, Kentaro organized the first Asia Leadership Development Center Program (ALDEC) for SCM Asia Secretaries at Tozanso Japan.

Following this period, he was appointed as Vice General Secretary of the National Committee of YMCAs of Japan and General Secretary of National Alliance of YMCAs of Japan. In 1984, he organized the Japan Overseas Christian Medical Service (JOCS), where he became General Secretary until 1987. A teacher by heart, he was appointed professor of Meiji Gakuin University and opened the faculty of International studies from 1987 to 1994 and also taught at the Lutheran College soon after. Following his retirement from Meiji Gakuin University, he became a board member of Japan Christian Academy.