日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【June 2022 No.410】Paul Schneiss: In Memoriam(5)


by Kimijima Yozaburo, pastor
Kozashibuya Church
Kanagawa District


Paul Schneiss, who worked as a missionary with the Kyodan, passed away on Feb. 11, 2022 in Heidelberg, Germany, at the age of 89. He was a Kyodan executive secretary from 1975 to 1984. His desk was behind mine when I started to work as a Kyodan executive secretary in April 1984, but I could barely see his back if I turned around, because he was surrounded by piles of books and documents and often wasn’t even there, as he was involved in so many things. He went to many places in Japan and South Korea and took part in various projects.

Paul was the executive secretary in charge of the Committee on Social Concerns and the Japan-Korea Solidarity Committee, so it was not a time in his ministry to be working at a desk. Many people, especially Korean residents, had started to refuse the mandatory fingerprinting of foreigners, thus rejecting this evil regulation. This movement revealed that Japan was a closed society. The Korean Christian Church in Japan supported the anti-fingerprinting movement and was collecting signatures every week in the streets to protest this fingerprinting, and Paul was there among them. I followed him and spoke to people with him on a loudspeaker.

Paul was deeply interested in the protection of people’s human rights in East Asia, going wherever people had to fight against its violation. He was a man of action. He couldn’t just sit by and watch what was happening. The fact that he was born into a missionary family in China might have caused him to go and join these movements so that they would be respected and people would be able to talk and act freely in East Asia.

The Gwangju Uprising occurred in 1980. The South Korean army suppressed citizens fighting for democracy. The South Korean government had prohibited articles related to this event from being published for a long time. A film entitled “A Taxi Driver,” based on this uprising, was released in 2017.  It is the story of a German journalist who then resided in Japan and came to South Korea to record the uprising and the government suppression on video, with the help of a taxi driver, and then broadcasted it worldwide. This German journalist reminded me of Paul Schneiss. It seemed as if Paul were there.

Paul’s greatest interest was the democratization of Korea. He rarely spent time at the desk in the Kyodan office but often visited South Korea, returning with a lot of documents and records. His wife went there to bring them back to Japan when he was barred by the South Korean government from entering the country. The government controlled public information so strictly that people couldn’t learn about the movement for democracy and the governmental suppression in South Korea. He tried to expose it, sometimes almost at the cost of his life, and continued to visit South Korea, collecting records and documents and encouraging those who were fighting for democracy.

Around that time, the Japanese monthly magazine Sekai (The World) began a series of articles entitled “Communications from South Korea,” written by someone referred to as “TKsei.” Its impact was enormous because it exposed how people in South Korea were craving for the democratization of their country and how the army had been suppressing that, all of which the government had long concealed from the people. It was shocking for Korean people themselves as well as for the people of Japan and the world. It came to be known later that “TKsei” was a pen name of Chi Myong-kwan, who was in Japan after having been expelled from Korea. The person who provided him a huge amount of information and evidence was Paul Schneiss. At Paul’s death there were a lot of comments on Facebook by Korean people and Korean residents in Japan, full of gratitude that he had worked so hard for the democratization of South Korea and to support Korean residents of Japan.

Paul completed his missionary term and rather reluctantly returned to Germany, Having been born in China, he must have wanted to devote himself to the human rights and freedom of people in Japan and Korea for the rest of his life. I worked with him for only a couple of months, but I learned a lot from him.

Paul became a pastor in the small village of Weingarten, Germany, and lived with the people there in wine country, even though he didn’t consume any alcohol. He continued thinking about the people of East Asia, however, and became the chairman of the German East Asia Mission (DOAM), promoting concerns for East Asia to the end of his life. (Tr. SK)

Paul Schneiss
Born March 15, 1933, in Changsha, China
Managing Director of German East Asia Mission (DOAM),1968-1975
Ecumenical Collaborator of the EMS at the Kyodan, 1975-1984
Chairman of the German East Asia Mission (DOAM), 1991-2010
Passed away on Feb. 10, 2022 in Heidelberg, Germany

 教団ドイツ人宣教師であった、パウロ・シュナイス牧師は2022年2月11日、ドイツ、ハイデルベルグで死去されました。89歳でした。75年から84年まで教団幹事を務めた。私が事務局で幹事になったのは84年4月ですが、シュナイス先生は私の後ろにデスクがありました。しかし、その周りには資料の山で、振り返っても先生の姿は見えないほど資料にうずもれていました。しかし、机に座っていることはほとんどなく、飛び歩いていました。大変行動的で、日本各地、韓国などに出かけさまざまな活動に関わっていました。先生は社会委員会と日韓連帯特別委員会 の幹事で、机に座っている時代ではありませんでした。というのは、法に定められた指紋押捺を拒否し、悪法には従わないと多くの外国人が行動に出ました。外国人の指紋押捺拒否運動は日本の閉鎖性に問題を提示しました。在日大韓基督教会


 1980年韓国で、民主化を求めて人々が蜂起し、それを軍が銃をもって弾圧した光州事件が起こりました。その事件をテーマにした映画「タクシー運転手 約束は海を越えて」が2017年上映されました。韓国政府はこの蜂起と弾圧も報道規制をして隠しました。ある日本駐在のドイツ人記者はタクシー運転手の手助けを受けて人々の蜂起と軍が人々を弾圧する姿をビデオに撮り、それを世界に向かって知らせたという映画です。このドイツ人記者はシュナイス先生にだぶって見え、映画を見ながら、シュナイス先生がそこにいると思えてなりませんでした。






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