Interview Series #3: インタビュー・シリーズ＃３ Prof. Claude Roberge
Interviewee: Mr. Claude Roberge Professor Emeritus, Sophia University (Date: October 24, 2006; Place: SJ House, Sophia University; Interviewer/Writer: Takahiro Miyao)
Summary of Prof. Roberge’s Interview:
About Fifty years ago I came from Montreal to Japan as a French Canadian Jesuit missionary in response to the Jesuit General’s call for missions to Japan. After two years of language training near Yokosuka, in addition to my religious and academic preparation, I became a member of Sophia University in the mid-1950s. Around that time, many Quebec missionaries came to Japan, partly due to requests by the Jesuit headquarters in Rome looking to resourceful nations like Canada, and partly due to invitations by the Catholic communities in Japan looking for additional help from abroad. In fact, there were already a substantial number of Quebec missionaries living in Japan before WWII, probably around 150 in the late 1930s and the early 1940s. Among them, a Dominican bishop in Sendai was well known and quite influential, so Sendai was even called “little Quebec” around that time.
Right after the war, Catholic missionaries saw a good opportunity in Japan to convert people who suffered during the war to Christianity. So many Quebec missionaries came over and the total number of them was increasing rapidly, hitting a peak around 400 in the 1960s. However, their initial experience in Japan was quite challenging, as many of them came from their conservative cultural background to a completely foreign environment. Learning Japanese was difficult enough, and there were no textbooks or patterns to follow for successful missionary activities in Japan. It turned out to be very difficult to convert any Japanese into Christianity, however hard they tried. While their efforts to influence Japanese people spiritually were not so successful as they originally wished, their contributions to education and charity were outstanding and highly appreciated by native Japanese. For example, Caritas Gakuen in Kawasaki, Kenmei Gakuin in Himeji, LaSalle School in Kagoshima, and many Catholic schools were established by Quebec missionaries, and are still contributing to the quality of education in present-day Japan, although the total number of Quebec missionaries has been gradually declining for the last three decades.
Nowadays, we see different kinds of people coming from Quebec to Japan, mostly tourists and business people, as Japan and Quebec are having good terms without any political or historical problems between them. However, I am a little concerned about the lack of spiritual exchange in our relations, as I observe quite a few young people both in Japan and Quebec with no purpose in life and feeling rather unhappy. We may need a new mission to reestablish ourselves spiritually. References: 1) Richard Leclerc and Claude Roberge “Footsteps of the Quebec Missionaries in Japan,” The Journal of American and Canadian Studies, No. 15, Spring 1997, Sophia University: http://www.info.sophia.ac.jp/amecana/Journal/15-4.htm 2)"Bilateral Relations: Japan-Quebec," Consulate General of Japan at Montreal: http://www.montreal.ca.emb-japan.go.jp/english/relations/quebec-1.htm "The history of Japan-Quebec relations dates back more than 100 years. In fact, 1998 marked the 100th anniversary of their beginning. Quebec was the first Canadian province to establish permanent contact with Japan and celebrated in 2002 the 30th anniversary of the Délégation générale du Québec à Tokyo. Missionaries from Quebec were the first from the province to establish permanent residency in Japan. Sister Hélène Paradis, from Charlesbourg, a hamlet of Quebec City, was the first to arrive in Japan on October 2nd, 1898."
(Written by Takahiro Miyao) ----------------------------------------------------------------- クロード・ロベルジュ名誉教授とのインタビュー クロード・ロベルジュ氏：上智大学名誉教授 （2006年10月24 日、上智大学SJハウスにて、聞き手・文責は宮尾尊弘）
最近ではケベックから日本に、宣教師ではなく色々な人が来るようになったが、それは主として観光目的やビジネス関係の人たちである。それは日本とケベックの間に政治的あるいは歴史的な問題がなく、良好な関係にあることを反映している。しかしながら、私が心配するのは、我々の関係に精神的な交流が欠けていることである。日本でもケベックでも多くの若者が人生において何らの目的を持たず、幸福になれない状況をみると、精神面での自己を確立し再確認する新たな運動の必要性を感じざるをえない。 参考： １）リチャード・レクラーク、クロード・ロベルジュ「日本におけるケベック宣教団の足跡」 Richard Leclerc and Claude Roberge "Footsteps of the Quebec Missionaries in Japan," The Journal of American and Canadian Studies, No. 15, Spring 1997, Sophia University: http://www.info.sophia.ac.jp/amecana/Journal/15-4.htm ２）「日本・ケベック関係」在モントリオール・日本領事館 "Bilateral Relations: Japan-Quebec," Consulate General of Japan at Montreal: http://www.montreal.ca.emb-japan.go.jp/english/relations/quebec-1.htm 「日本とケベックの関係の歴史は100年以上も前にさかのぼる。事実、1998年に関係の始まりから100周年を迎えた。またケベック州は日本と永続的な関係を確立したカナダで最初の州であり、2002年にケベック州政府東京事務所で30周年を祝う事業を行なった。ケベック修道女エレーヌ・パラディがケベック・シティから日本に1898年10月2日に渡ったのが日本とケベックの関係の始まりであった」