The Clinical Pastoral Education & Research Center, Japan
The Clinical Pastoral Educationand Research Center, JAPAN

  • The purpose of The Clinical Pastoral Education and Research Center, JAPAN is to provide qualified spiritual care both for patients, their families and friends as well as for the hospital staff itself. Spiritual care is seen as a sine qua non for holistic health care as well as for the well-being of the human condition. The Center originated within the Catholic Church but is open to anyone concerned with the care of the spiritual dimension, and of heart and soul of suffering fellow humans. The Center was formally opened on January 1st 1998, with the first Clinical Pastoral Education course offered in 1991. Since then more than 190 five-days programs have been conducted with an average of 6 participants each.

  • Pastoral Care within Japanese public hospitals is not only non-existent it is according to the law not even permitted. In private medical institutions Pastoral Care while being possible does not exist either. The term Pastoral Care is almost unknown and unfamiliar within medical circles. On the whole Pastoral Care is almost unavailable within the 8,920 hospitals with 1,798,637 sickbeds in Japan. (*1)

  • There are a few exceptions to the rule which would be more similar to the situation on Christian hospitals. But even within the 60 Christian hospitals at present Pastoral Care is not the rule nor are the existing Pastoral Care departments necessarily staffed with certified and/or qualified personnel.

  • Both due to shortage of religious members within the medical profession and economic difficulties the number of Catholic medical facilities has decreased almost 50 % between 1960 and 1990 (from 47 to 25 institutions) . As this trend for the time being will probably continue the establishment and staffing of Pastoral Care departments is even more urgent. It goes without saying that once a religious institution changes its ownership the continuation--let alone the establishment--of Pastoral Care within such an institution will be very difficult to say the least.

  • The need for Pastoral Care is especially urgent in palliative care units or Hospices. At present there are 163 palliative care wards/units (many of them are called Hospice) recognized by the government in Japan. Regardless, the WHO stresses a comprehensive pattern of care "which encompasses the physical, psychological, social and spiritual aspects of suffering"(*2) spiritual care is offered only a small percentage of these medical institutions. Therefore even in hospice settings the importance of and need for qualified spiritual care is underestimated.

  • In order to bring across to society the importance and necessity of Pastoral Care for an holistic approach to the delivery of health care Pastoral Care, i.e., spiritual care has to be concretely practiced and thus made visible somewhere within the Japanese society itself. Only in this way both the need for spiritual help and its benevolence will be recognized and gradually become part of the healing profession. The Center considers this as its very goal and very reason for existence.

  • The specific ways the Center will achieve this goal include the following. The Center offers courses in both Clinical Pastoral Education and engages in research regarding spiritual care. As the center's existence and functioning depends on the support of individuals and institutions your cooperation is welcomed.

Dr. Waldemar Kippes Director

1. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan Homepage March 2007
2. WHO Technical Report Series 804, CANCER PAIN RELIEF AND PALLIATIVE CARE Report of a WHO Expert Committee World Health Organization Geneva 1990