As suicide rate increases in Japan, Asian Access responds with hope of ChristPastors pray for president Joe Handley 

Japan (MNN) ― In Japan, suicide is on the rise. Nearly 34,000 people took their lives last year alone, according to USA Today. This number is the second-highest toll ever in Japan and ranks Japan at ninth for suicide rates worldwide.

This has been the case for the last decade as Japan's economy continues to weaken and spiral downward. Since 1998, there have been over 30,000 suicides each year, reported the Japan Times.

Takeshi Takazawa with Asian Access (A2) said two factors contribute to this.

"This basically shows the hopelessness. They think killing themselves is better than continuing life, so they basically give up," he said. Also, many feel isolated, without anyone to talk to or show support.

Asian Access in Japan is trying to turn this number around.

Takazawa said the church in Japan needs to reach out to society, rather than waiting for the hopeless to come knocking on the church doors.

"We're encouraging our Japanese pastors to become a true bridge to those people who desperately need hope and salvation of Christ," he said.

One way they did this was by sending several pastors to the U.S. through the pastor's vision tour. These pastors visited Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington, as well as Vancouver, B.C. and according to A2's Web site, "had a very fruitful time."

Takazawa said Seattle area is one of the least-evangelized places in the U.S. Thus, the pastors observed the unique models and approaches evangelists used there and were taught how to use them in Japan.

The pastors realized two main issues they needed to address in Japan as a result of the conference.

First, Takazawa said, "[The] Church needs ears to listen to society. The answer is Jesus Christ, always, but what questions are they asking?"

Second, they became aware of the need to create multi-site churches. Rather than keeping the church in one location, the church would go to the searching and allow them to connect on a deeper level.

Pray for the church in Japan as they seek to reach out to lost and hopeless individuals. Pray that they will reach people before they feel the need to end their lives.

To learn more about the ministry of Asian Access and how you can get involved, click here.

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