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"IMA" 2007 Obituary


IMAI o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-11-29 published
IMAI, The Reverend Canon Paul Ken, B.A., B.D., M.Div., M.Th.
Passed over to the Eternal Light on November 27th, 2007 at the age of 96 with his beloved wife of 60 years, Yachiyo Grace, at his side. Loving father of Shin (Kathy), Margaret Ko and Rei. Adored grandfather of Toshi, Kumi, Mika, Carly Mei, Toshi Ken, Kai and Joji.
Educated in Tokyo, New York and Toronto; ordained to the priesthood in 1940 and faithfully served the Anglican community in Japan, Canada and England. His ministry included; parish priest in Sendai, chaplin at Saint Margaret's Rikkyo School in Tokyo, parish priest of St. Andrew's Japanese Anglican Church in Toronto. After serving 26 years in the Diocese of Toronto, he was appointed Chaplin of Rikkyo School in England and subsequently, the Dean of Shoei College (at King Alfred's College) in Winchester.
The family will receive Friends on Friday, November 30, 2007 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the R.S. Kane Funeral Home (6150 Yonge Street, at Goulding, south of Steeles).
A service of celebration and thanksgiving will be held on Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 11: 00 a.m. at St. Andrew's Japanese Anglican Church (49 Donlands Avenue, Toronto).
If desired, expressions of sympathy may be made to St. Andrew's Japanese Anglican Church or St. George's Anglican Church, Willowdale or the Japanese Social Service.
R.S. Kane 416-221-1159

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IMAI o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-12-10 published
Priest from Japan ministered to displaced Japanese Canadians
He arrived in Canada for a three-year posting and stayed 26 years. 'He was kind of a reverse missionary. He would write his Sunday sermons in between periods of Hockey Night in Canada'
By Ron CSILLAG, Special to The Globe and Mail, Page S10
Toronto -- Upon their arrival in Canada in 1953, Paul Ken IMAI, his wife and two children constituted five per cent of all immigrants from Japan that year. In the decade after the Second World War, just 409 Japanese émigrés were permitted to come to this country.
Racial hysteria kept all but a trickle of Japanese out of Canada until 1967, when the government introduced the point system, which judges potential newcomers primarily on their labour market skills and adaptability to Canada, rather than racial or ethnic backgrounds.
A particularly dark chapter in Canadian history began in late 1941. Just weeks after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and its invasion the following day of Hong Kong, which led to the death or capture of 2,000 Canadian troops, Canada invoked the War Measures Act and declared Japanese Canadians to be enemy aliens.
In British Columbia, where most of them lived, it meant that 22,000 persons of Japanese origin, including Canadian citizens, were uprooted. The evacuees were relocated to B.C.'s Interior, scattered about or placed in internment or work camps. They lost everything. Their homes, fishing boats, businesses and personal items were taken or destroyed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Their land was set aside for returning veterans.
Four months after the war ended, Ottawa made Japanese Canadians an offer: Be dispersed or return to Japan. About 4,000 people went back to Japan (voluntarily, the government insisted). About 9,000 settled in Ontario.
That's where Rev. IMAI, an American-trained Anglican priest, found a community still recovering, trying to make a life in the country that had treated them so miserably. Not many of them were Christian, fewer still were Anglican, but those who were encountered a gentle, compassionate man who would be a calming influence in their lives.
"They were uprooted. They wanted to go home but were not allowed," remembered Grace, his soft-spoken wife of 60 years. It was a community still in shock. Her husband "visited people and listened to them. That was a very good thing for them, to talk about it," she went on. "But maybe he couldn't do as much as he wanted."
Though small in number, Mr. IMAI helped solidify Japanese Anglicans in Toronto, Hamilton, London, St. Catharines and Montreal. As a parish priest, he conducted hundreds of baptisms and weddings, and held Bible classes in Japanese. It was supposed to be a three-year posting; it lasted for 26 years.
A much-loved pastor, priest and teacher who combined Japanese serenity with Christian saintliness, Mr. IMAI represented a distinct minority. In Japan, where European missionaries were not as successful as elsewhere in the Orient, fewer than one per cent of the population is Christian. Japanese tend to borrow freely and without conflict from Buddhism and Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, sometimes with Christian holidays and traditions thrown in. Mr. IMAI studied and was conversant in Shin (Japanese) Buddhism, Zen and Shinto, but never considered those as alternatives to his beloved church.
He was born of samurai ancestry in Manchuria, then under Japanese control. His father was a wealthy railroad magnate and devout Anglican who wrapped his new son in white and offered him to God's service. He named him Ken, which means "offering" in Japanese.
Mr. IMAI attended Saint Paul's University in Tokyo and studied at the General Theological Seminary in New York from 1938 to 1940. He was ordained to the priesthood at Christ Church Cathedral in the city of Sendai.
His family concedes the only gaps in his biography occur during the war years. He never spoke about them. He felt that as a Christian, he could not support war, and delivered an anti-war sermon from the pulpit in the city of Akita around 1941, only to notice a man in the back row of the sanctuary leave right after it was over. It turned out that the stranger was a member of Japan's secret police, and Mr. IMAI was drafted into the Japanese army right away.
He served in the dangerous position of scout, and saw front-line action in the Philippines and New Guinea, where he was captured by U.S. troops. Japanese soldiers had standing orders to kill themselves with a poison pill upon capture, but Mr. IMAI and a group of others didn't have their suicide pills, so they asked to be shot in the chest. The Americans declined.
Imprisoned in New Guinea, Mr. IMAI was soon shipped to a prisoner of war camp in near the town of Cowra in Australia. Located about 300 kilometres west of Sydney, N.S.W., the facility was home to some 4,000 Axis inmates. A guard from New York befriended the young priest and even presented him with a cake on his birthday. Hunger was the PoW's constant companion, and they wondered what the crocodiles in nearby streams tasted like.
The Cowra camp became famous when on August 5, 1944, more than 500 Japanese PoWs escaped, or died in the attempt. At the sound a bugle, hundreds of PoWs charged the wire yelling "Banzai."
The authorities had earlier been tipped off about a planned breakout and purposely rearmed the guards by replacing their rifles with machine guns. The gunners mowed down scores of prisoners before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers, and two were killed. In all, about 350 PoWs got away but by all accounts few of them expected to get very far. Some killed themselves, had it done for them by a comrade or were shot avoiding recapture. Within 10 days, all 230 survivors had been rounded up. For his part, Mr. IMAI did not make it back to Japan until 1946.
He took a job as chaplain at a girls' school in Tokyo. Six years later, he was called by the Missionary Society of the Church of England to minister to Japanese-Anglicans in the Toronto area, then the second-largest such community outside Japan (the first was in Los Angeles). At the same time, he was awarded a scholarship to take a master's degree in theology at the University of Toronto's Trinity College.
"He was kind of a reverse missionary," his son, Shin, said. "He loved this country. He would write his Sunday sermons in between periods of Hockey Night in Canada." It was a peripatetic congregation in those days, more recently settling at St. Andrew Japanese Congregation, located in St. David's Anglican Church on Donlands Avenue.
"There was a lot of emphasis on education," recalled Shin IMAI. "They really pounded that into us. My parents always said, and this is fairly common among immigrants, that you have to be - no insult to anybody - better than white people in order to be treated the same as white people."
Mr. IMAI maintained a resolute silence about his war experiences. But there were times at night, his son says, when his father awoke screaming.
He was appointed an honorary canon of Saint_James Cathedral in Toronto. Two years later, he and others translated Anglicanism's central text, the Book of Common Prayer, into Japanese. In her will, Shizuko MORITSUGU, the woman who handwrote the edition's kanji script, specified that a copy be placed in her coffin.
Mr. IMAI retired as parish priest in 1978. For the next five years, he served as a chaplain at a Japanese school in England, then as dean of King Alfred's College in Winchester, Wessex.
Back in Toronto, he taught Japanese Bible classes for 11 years, before Parkinson's disease sidelined him in 1997. As far as his family knows, he voiced no opinion on the same-sex controversy now tearing apart the global Anglican communion.
Rev. John WILTON, the IMAIs' own priest, said he encountered "holy ground" whenever he visited Mr. IMAI. Mr. WILTON summons a scene that is sad yet dignified. Deaf, wracked by Parkinson's, and with most of his English gone, Mr. IMAI could do little else in his final days but make the sign of the cross.
Paul Ken IMAI was born in Manchuria on November 10, 1911, and died in Toronto on November 27, 2007. He was 96. He leaves his wife Grace YACHIRO, children Shin, Margaret and Rei, and seven grandchildren.

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