Japanese Christian doctor turns 100, looks toward 110

October 6, 2011

TOKYO

Shigeaki Hinohara, a Japanese Christian doctor who has carved out a reputation as an expert on healthy aging, marked his 100th birthday on Oct. 4 by contemplating the potential for celebrating his 110th.

“Now I have a major goal on what to do towards 110 years old and would like to stay healthy to see a spiritual world and a nuclear-free world realized while teaching children [about the significance of life and peace],” said Hinohara, honorary president and chairman of the board of trustees of St. Luke International Hospital in Tokyo.

During a presentation of his testimony of faith entitled “From a perishable body to an imperishable body” at Tokyo Yamate Church of the United Church of Christ in Japan ― a partner church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in mid-September,

Hinohara, a UCCJ member, said, “We can endure any sufferings if we always have an attitude to walk looking up. As [the hymn Amazing Grace] says, ‘I shall possess within the veil, a life of joy and peace.’”

He told his United Church audience that he is a better doctor because he was a patient.

Born in Yamaguchi in western Japan in 1911 in a Christian family (his father was a pastor), he suffered from the kidney disease nephritis and lung ailments tuberculosis and pleurisy. He studied medicine at Kyoto Imperial University in Japan and Emory University in the U.S. “I became sick, but as I was becoming a doctor, I could not have understood patients without knowing pains of the suffering patients,” he said during the testimony.

Hinohara said he became a doctor because he “longed to be like Albert Schweitzer,” the doctor, Christian theologian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Hinohara has devoted himself to the renewal of medicine and nursing education in Japan by pointing out the importance of preventive medicine and including patient participation in treatment decisions. In 1999, he was honored by the government as a Person of Cultural Merit and in 2005 with the government’s Order of Culture.

“The fact that Japan experienced the earthquake disaster [on March 1] made me feel even more that I would like to live ten years more. I want to live on to see Japan recover,” wrote Hinohara in his latest book, Shigeaki Hinohara, 100 Years Old.

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