Roman Catholic bishops from China, Korea and Japan will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the execution of the assassin of the Japanese prime minister with a Mass in Dalian on 26 March 2010 - writes Hisashi Yukimoto.
"This year marks 100 years after the annexation of Korea [by Japan]," said Bishop Daiji Tani of the Catholic Church in Japan, who chairs a committee organizing a four-day pilgrimage from Japan to the church in Dalian, northeast China, where the joint service will take place. "Let us look to history together and join the pilgrimage to pray for peace."
In October 1909, Ahn Jung-geun, a Catholic, shot to death [the] Japanese Prime Minister, Hirobumi Ito, at Harbin Station in northeast China. This was one year before Japan began its colonisation of Korea, which lasted until 1945. Ahn was condemned to death as an assassin and on 26 March, 1910, he was executed in the northeastern Chinese city of Lushun, or Port Arthur, in Dalian.
"The late Cardinal Kim Sou-Hwan of the [Catholic] church in South Korea considered [the assassination] as 'a heroic deed of self-defence' by Ahn Jung-geun," said Tani in a statement. "There are various evaluations for Ahn Jung-geun, but the historic incident is related to the 'annexation of Korea'."
He added, "So, we have planned pilgrimage groups from the Catholic churches in both Japan and South Korea and plan to hold a Mass at the church in Dalian along with the Catholic Church in China."
Bishops from the three countries will concelebrate the mass together, according to Tani.
"The Dalian church was a church that was once established as a Japanese church," he noted.
Today, Ahn is revered in Korea as one of the country's most celebrated independence fighters for his act of resistance against Japanese colonisation. Koreans see his commemoration as one to aid peace in the Asian region, particularly between Korea, Japan and China.
Koreans are finding a variety of new ways to remember him on the 100th anniversary of the shooting, Korean media have reported.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]