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Tanase, Takio (1929-2006)

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Mennonite Weekly Review obituary: 2006 May 1 p. 3

Birth date: 1929 Mar 14

Leading Japanese pastor and translator dies at 77

By Ryan Miller
Mennonite Mission Network

TOKYO — Takio Tanase, one of Japan's earliest Mennonites and an influential leader in the Mennonite conference of Hokkaido and the Tokyo Area Fellowship of Mennonite Churches, died April 6. He was 77.

Tanase served as a pastor for 48 years, from 1958 until his death. He also made an impact on the Japanese church as a translator, translating many key Mennonite texts into Japanese.

Tanase became the first Hokkaido Mennonite to attend college in the United States, studying at Hesston (Kan.) College and Goshen (Ind.) College. In 1972 he graduated from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Ind., with a master's degree in religious education.

His path toward Christian faith and ministry began in 1951 when he moved to Kushiro with a friend who was an interpreter for Ralph and Genevieve Buckwalter, two of the first mission workers in Japan through Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network. When his friend departed, he stepped in as interpreter, though he at first had no interest in Christianity.

But as Tanase translated and tutored Ralph Buckwalter in Japanese, Buckwalter began mentoring him in Bible study. Tanase became a believer and was baptized in 1952 at the Kushiro congregation.

He would go on to lead three Mennonite congregations in the Hokkaido region, and later the Honancho region, and later the Honancho congregation in Tokyo.

"He was an excellent leader and preacher," Genevieve Buckwalter said.

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Mary Beyler, a mission worker supported by MMN in Obihiro, said many of Hokkaido's Mennonites can trace their faith back to the people who first talked to them of Christ and baptized them. For many in Hokkaido, the walk of faith began with the Buckwalters and Tanase.

After studying in the United States, Tanase married Aiko Harada in 1958 and then became pastor at Hombetsu. Next he pastored the Kushiro (later called Tsurugadai) church from 1960-69. After his second term of U.S. studies, he served the Obihiro church from 1972-87. From 1987-2006, he was pastor of Homancho Christian Church in Tokyo.

Tanase taught at Eastern Hokkaido Bible School, which trained many of Hokkaido Mennonite pastors in Anabaptist thought and practice.

In addition to translating Mennonite materials from English to Japanese, he did translation for other Christian groups.

Kaz Enomoto, a mission worker supported by MMN in Tokyo, said Tanase's work in translation and education helped change the perception of Anabaptists in Japan. As a result, the majority of Christian groups in Japan no longer consider them heretics. When Tanase moved to Tokyo, some prominent seminaries were still teaching negatively about the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century.

Tanase was born March 14, 1929, in Tokyo. His wife, Aiko survives in Tokyo.

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