Frustrated—Where Could I Turn?
As told to “Awake!” correspondent in Japan
EMOTIONALLY charged and with a lump in my throat I applauded excitedly! At what? I had just seen the movie Chonrima. It was a revolutionary movie that graphically showed the fight with and eventual victory of the Korean laborers over what was called the imperialistic Americans, and others, who treated them as if they were cows and horses. At last I had found something to devote my life to—the cause of socialism with freedom, equality and peace as the goal. So did this end my frustration?
Growing Up Frustrated
Why did I have feelings of frustration? It started with my experiences while I was a boy. I was born in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, which is called the Switzerland of the East because of its beautiful natural environment. In spite of the delightful natural surroundings, my family life was rather sad and unfulfilled. My parents were both ill, and nearly all the money earned was spent on medical care. Just before I entered grade school my mother died of her illness.
In those days public opinion was that children without parents were prone to become delinquents. So whenever problems arose I was reminded that “children without parents are no good.” This coldness in the community made me angry and frustrated.
After I entered high school my father died. It was then that I felt the full force of this coldness toward orphans. Just because I was an orphan my application for a job at one company was rejected. Oh, how I longed for a life free of discrimination! I finally moved to Tokyo and worked in a printing shop.
One day a fellow worker asked me if I would like to go to a meeting of just young folks. I accepted, and was I surprised! All the young men and women welcomed me warmly and were very kind. The meeting was called Democratic Youth League, which was a subordinate organization of the Japan Communist Party, organized to recruit prospective members for the party.
All sang the “Songs of Labor” and enjoyed folk dances, after which they divided into small groups where heated discussions developed on themes such as “The Place of the Laborer in the Future” and “A Just and Peaceful State.”
One day a young person came up to me after a discussion and asked: “In order to establish a peaceful life, is it not first necessary to remove class distinctions between capitalism and labor?” This pulled at my heartstrings. Eagerly I asked him: “How do you think class distinctions can be removed?” He replied instantly: “Revolutions like those in Russia, China and Korea are necessary. But here in Japan an armed revolution is impossible, so an ideological revolution is the only answer.” It was at this time that I went to see the movie Chonrima, after which I made my decision!
I Joined the Communist Party
In 1960 I joined the Communist Party, convinced that the only way to escape from a frustrated life was through setting up a socialist state. I organized unions in several enterprises for workers who were suffering because of low wages and harsh working conditions. Also, I became active in political movements and their struggles. For instance, I joined groups that vigorously demonstrated at American military bases against a nuclear submarine entering Yokosuka. We also engaged in protest marches against the Japan-American Security Pact.
In July of 1963 I went back to Nagano Prefecture because of a health problem, but I kept active in the Communist Party. In April of 1966 I got married, but my wife had absolutely nothing to do with communism.
As I carried on various activities of the Communist Party, I became aware of some contradictions between what the party should really be and what it was. Commands from the party headquarters were to be obeyed without any reservations. Vigorous discussions were held, but the opinions exchanged were not acted upon by the organization, and in most cases constructive ideas were squashed. Our discussions about freedom and peace were merely words. Mere forced subjection again made me feel the coercion I had experienced in my childhood.
I began to wonder, ‘With the way things are now, could the socialist state I desired really be established?’ This question remained unanswered, and my complete trust in the party was replaced with misgivings. However, I could not place my hope in anything else. The old feeling of despair began to grow, and my activity cooled off. Once again I was overtaken by a feeling of frustration.
A Hope Presents Itself
On a really cold day in January 1969 something happened. As my wife and I were machine knitting in our house a young woman hardly 20 years old, one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, knocked on our door. My wife invited the visitor into the house to get warm. I never dreamed how profoundly this action of my wife was to affect my course in life. That young Jehovah’s Witness explained about God and God’s rule from Psalm 37, verses 10 and 11: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; . . . but the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”
The words, however, did not impress me. I was in agreement with Karl Marx’ opinion: “Religion is the opium of the people.” Therefore I had no interest in anything connected with God. My wife, however, showed interest and desired to have this person call again. Actually I felt, ‘How pitiful that this young person is sacrificing her life for a belief in a nonexistent God!’ I thought I should help her to abandon her foolish thinking. Therefore, with this altogether different motive, I agreed with my wife to have this young woman call again.
On her return visit the booklet “Look! I Am Making All Things New” was used, and an intense discussion was started on What is true peace? and Why is it impossible for man to set up a peaceful country? Other return visits by the young lady followed. One time the Witness explained about man’s imperfection, saying: “Because man is imperfect he cannot by himself rule in justice and peace.” She cited Jeremiah 10:23. I can recall the anger I felt as I strongly criticized her: “So any difficult problem you attribute to imperfection—how cowardly!” Yet I could not show any case where someone had been perfect.
As the study progressed the Witness always used the Bible to answer our questions. She also used charts and drawings to kindly explain things. In my head I could understand what she said and what was written in the publications. In my heart I was rejecting it because I continued to stumble over the word “God.” Apart from things related to God I could reasonably agree with what was written in the Bible, so I continued the discussions.
I Quit the Party
In the Communist Party I saw only an idealistic theory being developed, saying: “Mankind should be like this,” or, “Peace should be like that,” but I could not see any concrete or realistic approach to accomplish it.
I further became disillusioned with the Communist Party as it seemed only to parrot the Marx-Lenin doctrine and a way of life that only dreams of a socialistic state. So I turned in my notice of resignation from the party.
Immediately three members of the party headquarters came for all-night “recapitulation” sessions. No physical abuse was inflicted, but after three nights they severely castigated me for being an opportunist. Quitting the party caused mental anguish, but the officials recognized my strong determination to withdraw and gave up trying to persuade me to do otherwise. Although I was able to separate from the Communist Party in 1969, the socialistic ideology continued to control my thinking. So during the Bible studies questions kept haunting me: “Isn’t this, too, just a dream? Doesn’t the existence of God depend on whether you want to believe it or not?”
These questions were obstacles to my understanding whether God really exists or not. As I studied the “Look!” booklet and the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life* I could not help but think that it is unreasonable to object to these teachings.
Then one time as I was reading the Bible my eyes stopped at a verse that reads: “The sun also has flashed forth, and the sun has set, and it is coming panting to its place where it is going to flash forth. The wind is . . . continually circling, and right back to its circlings the wind is returning. All the winter torrents are going forth to the sea, yet the sea itself is not full.” (Ecclesiastes 1:5-7) As I meditated on these words I humbly acknowledged that the Bible is not merely a religious book but a scientific one too! This convinced me that the Bible is true, and that peace will be accomplished in the way the Bible says.
In time I read another book, Did Man Get Here by Evolution or by Creation?,* and in doing so I got another surprise. I learned that when considering the human body and its structural minuteness and the mysterious aspects of birth, it is pure ignorance to say that this happened by chance or accident. Especially in Chapter 7 of that book, “Heredity Keeps Family Kinds Separate,” I learned about the scientific substance DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and realized that a creative power was needed. This I could tie in with God, and now what had been vague was really very near and real, as I could now believe in the existence of God! (Romans 1:20; Hebrews 3:4) I realized that the only true hope for peace was not with communism or socialism but was from God through his Kingdom.
Now a different kind of problem presented itself. My work took me into the mountains to be a caretaker of a lodge. This was some one and a half hours from my previous home. I felt it would be too much to ask the conductor of the home Bible study to come this distance and so suggested to my wife that we quit.
I Became a Christian
However, a traveling overseer visiting the congregation suggested that the congregation try to extend a helping hand. So a brother with a car arranged to drive the conductor to our place every week, and we continued to study. This kindness helped us to realize just how important the things we were studying really were. At meetings, which we attended, not only were we welcomed but we could see a demonstration of how peaceful relations can be maintained.—Matthew 5:9.
Now we had a keen desire to show our appreciation for all that Jehovah had done for us and will do for us in the future. We wanted to be baptized as soon as possible to symbolize our dedication to Jehovah God. Our baptism took place on May 27, 1970.
My change from being a member of the Communist Party to a Christian witness of Jehovah has been a shock to many of my former associates. To me, too, the change has been nothing short of miraculous. Looking back, I was forced as a child to grow up without experiencing family love. Now I have a very large Christian family that loves me very dearly. (Matthew 12:48-50) At one time I had bitter, unfulfilled days marked by prejudice. Now I have found true peace and a spiritually satisfying life, replete with much joy. I have been able to search for, to find and to become convinced of a trustworthy hope that transcends man’s powers and his limitations to provide. I have tasted happiness and overflowing joy. Yes, by turning to Jehovah God, I have left frustration behind.
Both published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Blurb on page 10]
I began to wonder, ‘Could the socialist state I desired really be established?’
[Blurb on page 11]
I was in agreement with Karl Marx’ opinion: “Religion is the opium of the people”
[Blurb on page 12]
As I meditated on these words I humbly acknowledged that the Bible is not merely a religious book but a scientific one too!