The history of the Korean YMCA in Japan

In 1905, the Korean Legation ( the present Korean Embassy in Japan ) was forced to be withdrawn from Tokyo in accordance with the conclusion of the Eulsa protectorate Treaty. Right after the suspension of the Korean Legation, Kim Jung-shik, associate general secretary, was dispatched by the Hwangsung Young Men's Christian Association ( the present Seoul YMCA ) to help establish the Korean YMCA in Japan in 1906. The Korean Legation had protected the Korean students studying in Japan until that time.

When Mr. Gillete, general secretary of the Hwangsung Young Men's Association, visited Tokyo to investigate the rationale and necessity for the establishment of this YMCA at that time, most of the Korean students ( 244 people ) in Japan welcomed his plan. Their patriotic passion had helped expedite the establishment of this YMCA.

After the Korean YMCA was established, it began providing the Korean students in Japan not only with the Japanese language education but also with living conveniences such as the arrangement of lodgings and counseling on the selection of colleges and admissions. The record shows that about 80 percent of the Korean students coming to Japan for study took lessons on the Japanese language for one year in 1907.

Undoubtedly, this YMCA, which was a stronghold of the Independence Movement, not only played a pivotal role in uplifting patriotism and morality of the Korean students in Japan but also helped them continue to pursue their national salvation and independence even during the Japanese colonial rule.

In order to inspire national consciousness and develop their capabilities, this YMCA sponsored various lecture meeting on social issues, publication of bulletins, and sports events.

This YMCA had helped produce many national leaders such as Cho Man-shik, Chang Duk-soo, Ahn Jae-hong, Paek Nam-hoon, Choi Rhin, Shin Ik-hee, Chun Young-taek, Lee Dong-in, Choo Yo-han, Lee Kwang-soo, Yoo Eok-kyum, Paek Kwan-soo, Kim Do-youn, Choi Pal-yong, Choi Seung-man, Kim Joon-youn, etc.

In 1919, this YMCA backed the first declaration for Korea's independence known as the "February 8 Declaration of Independence," which was the first independence declaration that proclaimed the national self-determination and will for independence to the whole world. This declaration had paved the way for hosting the "March 1 Independence Movement" in Korea.

After the March 1 Independence Movement ,many members of this YMCA such as Shin Ik-hee, Choo Yo-han, Chang Duk-soo went to China to press ahead with the Independence Movement for the provisional government set up in Shanghai at the same year.

After the 1920's to 40's, this YMCA had rendered diverse services for the Korean residents and students in Japan. In addition, it was become their duty to have helped compatriots after the Kanto Earthquake disaster.

After the Second World War that speeded up the liberation of Korea in 1945, this YMCA had played a dual role in solving private affairs of the Korean people and symbolical works of the Korean Embassy before the Korean Government was established.

Above all, this YMCA took the initiative in promoting the drive against the repatriation of our compatriots to North Korea as well as in fostering a sense of sovereignty.

From 1960, this YMCA began to promote the service for young men of the Korean residents in Japan. In the 1970's Korea YMCA was established in Kansai, Oska, where more than half of the Korean residents in Japan were living.

The Seoul YMCA fund-raising drive and contributions from Japan YMCA, other diverse organizations and Christians helped construct a new building in Tokyo in 1980.

The Korean YMCA in Japan will do its utmost not only to keep our national identity and traditional culture toward the 21st century and for the centennial anniversary of its founding but also to help build a community where the Korean, Japanese, and all other Asian youths co-exist in peace and love.

Go to Homepage