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Traces That Remain:
A Pictorial History of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Faith among the Japanese

by Barbara R. Sims

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Chapter 62

62. The Development of the Local Spiritual Assemblies in Japan

The Guardian stressed the great importance of establishing functioning local spiritual assemblies. The administration which was described and amplified by Shoghi Effendi is part of the Divine Revelation. When viewed in this light, the establishing of local assemblies, which in turn provide support for the national assemblies, are, as the smallest administrative unit, vital to the development and spread of the Faith.

For several years there was only one in Japan; the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Tokyo. Then in 1954 the Local Spiritual Assembly of Hyogo Prefecture was elected. It was composed entirely of foreigners, who, at that time could speak little Japanese but it started functioning in accordance with administration. In 1956 it was dissolved and three local assemblies were formed in cities within that prefecture.

In 1956 there were eight assemblies in Japan, one in Taiwan,


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Local Spiritual Assemblies were elected in Tokyo in 1948 and 1949 but left no photos that could be found. This particular photograph was taken in 1950. Seated are Miss Fusae Ichige, Mr. Goro Horioka and Miss Shigeko Nakanishi. Standing are Mr. Robert Imagire, Mr. Kinya Saito, Mr. Toshio Hirohashi, Mr. Naoki Yoshino, Mr. Yoshiharu Kato and Mr. Shozo Kadota.

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one in Hong Kong and two in Korea, all of which would elect delegates to send to the first National Convention of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia, in Tokyo.

The next year, 1957, the Local Spiritual Assembly of Hiroshima was elected. By 1958 there were eighteen local assemblies under the new national spiritual assembly; eleven in Japan; one each in Hong Kong and Macau; two in Taiwan; and three in Korea, in Seoul, Mokpo and Kwangju.

Years later, in 1974, when the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan was elected, there were over fifty local spiritual assemblies. Following are some of the first local assemblies:


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The second area to have a local spiritual assembly in Japan was Hyogo Prefecture. That assembly was formed in April 1954. Two years later it went out of existence and three were formed in the same area using city limits as areas of jurisdiction.

The assembly consisted entirely of pioneers who had come to Japan that year or the year previously and who were laying the foundation for the administration. Mr. Datwani and his wife had come from India to Japan for business. They left soon after to reside in Hong Kong, among the first pioneers to settle there.

Seated are Mrs. Mahin Moghbel, Mrs. Behjat Mumtazi, Mr. Philip Marangella and Mrs. Pouran Mumtazi. Standing are Mr. Ataullah Moghbel, Mr. G. B. Datwani, Mr. Abbas Katirai, Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi and Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi.

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This was the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly elected in 1954. It was the first incorporated assembly in Japan, as the incorporation was completed by April 1955. Tokyo directed the work of the Faith in all Japan until the first national spiritual assembly was elected. Seated are Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, Miss Fusae Ichige, Mrs. Yuriko Mochizuki Furukawa, Miss Kotoko Mochizuki and Mrs. Barbara Sims. Standing are Mr. Goro Horioka, Mr. Yadollah Rafaat, Mr. Tameo Hongo and Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi.


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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Nagoya, 1956.

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Seated are Mrs. Kaneko Sueki, Mrs. Toshiko Nakagawa, Mr. Hisateru Hattori and Miss Emiko Matsui. Standing are Mrs. Frouz Mohtadi, Mr. Chiyoyuki Sueki, Mr. Yoshiro Kato, Mr. Katsutaro Ito and Mr. Aziz Mohtadi.

Mr. and Mrs. Mohtadi, pioneers from Iran, were able to stay in Japan for about two years. They went to Nagoya to establish the Faith there. After they left in November, 1956, it was the only community of all Japanese believers.

Mr. and Mrs. Sueki's son, Toshio, a second generation Nagoya Bahá'í, helped us with the identification.


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The Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Tokyo, 1956. This assembly, along with seven others which came into existence in 1956, sent delegates to the first national convention in 1957. From the left: Mrs. Virginia Hamilton, Miss Yoko Majima, Mr. Shozo Kadota, Miss Kotoko Mochizuki, Mrs. Barbara Sims, Miss Yukiko Inatsuka, Mr. Haruo Nekomoto, Mrs. Jean Eaton and Lt. Lawrence Hamilton.

Lt. and Mrs. Hamilton were caretakers of the Tokyo Bahá'í Center in 1955 and 1956. They left Japan shortly before the first convention. Lt. Hamilton did much remodeling and made improvements to the building to make it more effective as a center of activities.

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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Osaka, 1956. Seated are Mr. Eichu Kim, Mrs. Sedighe Naderi, Mrs. Chie Nakajima, Mrs. Afagh Naderi and Mr. Gekie Nakajima. Standing are Mr. Karim Naderi, Mr. Kayushi Utsumi, Mr. Hassan Naderi and Mr. Akira Okada.


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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Kobe, 1956. Seated are Mrs. Tahereh Kazempour, Mr. Rihei Sako (the first Japanese Bahá'í of Kobe), Mr. Morio Nakamichi, and Mrs. Behjat Mumtazi. Standing are Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi, Mr. Eiichiro Yokoyama, Mr. Nario Sawada, Mr. Takeo Katayama and Mr. Abbas Kazempour.

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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Nishinomiya, 1956. Seated are Mrs. Pouran Mumtazi, Mrs. Rezvanieh Katirai, Mrs. Talat Mahboubi and Mr. Tawad Mahboubi. Standing are Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi, Mr. Abbas Katirai, Mr. Naomi Hashimoto, Mr. Yoshimitsu Yamamoto and Mr. Philip Marangella.


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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Kyoto, 1956. Seated are Mr. Jun Koyama, Mr. Masazo Odani, Miss Agnes Alexander, Mr. Tokujiro Torii and Mr. Seiichiro Tsunemi. In the back row are Mrs. Shizue Tsunemi, Mrs. Ito Torii, Miss Yoshiko Morita and Mr. Makoto Inaba.

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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Amagasaki, 1956. Seated are Mrs. Isao Zenimoto, Mrs. Mahin Moghbel, Mrs. Katsuko Ishii and Mrs. Kian Vahdat. Standing are Mr. Ataullah Moghbel, Mr. Takeshi Ishii, Mr. Heshmat Vahdat, Dr. David Earl and Mr. Michitoshi Zenimoto.


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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Yokohama, 1956. In the front row are Mr. Roy MacDonald, Mrs. Louise MacDonald, and Miss Yuriko Mizuno. In the middle row are Mr. Koji Akizawa, Mr. Takao Mizuno and Mr. Takatoshi Tanaka. In the back row are Mr. Hitoshi Sakamoto, Dr. Ikuo Mizuno and Mr. John McHenry III.

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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Hiroshima, 1957. Seated are Miss Sachiko Watanabe, Mrs. Bazaieh Assassi and Miss Kimi Masuda. Standing are Mr. Mohsen Assassi, Mr. Saishin Yasumoto, Mr. Toshio Arai, Mr. Michitaka Honkawa, Mr. Shuzo Nakai and Mr. Muhammad Labib.


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The second Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Hiroshima, 1958. Seven of the nine members had changed from the year before. Seated are Mrs. N. Sharifi, Miss Sachiko Watanabe, Mrs. Bazaieh Assassi, Miss Eiko Yuasa and Miss Noriko Matsuura. Standing are Mr. Tsuenori Nakamae, Mr. Hirokazu Arai, Mr. Yukio Hanada and Mr. Sharif Sharifi.

Three members of the Arai family became Bahá'ís. Mr. Hirokazu Arai eventually died from the lingering effects of the devastating Hiroshima bombing.

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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Itami, 1958. Seated are Mrs. Setsue Kimura, Mrs. Masako Fujishima, Mrs. Hide Takada and Mrs. Katsuko Ishii. Standing are Mr. Yasuo Kobayashi, Mr. Takeshi Ishii, Dr. Atauallah Mottahedin, Mr. Rohei Kobayashi and Mr. Keiji Takada.


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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Akashi, 1958. Seated are Mrs. Fumiko Kojima, Mr. Tadasu Miyazawa and Mrs. Toshiko Kojima. Standing are Mr. Eitaro Kojima, Mr. Masami Morii, Mr. Sanjiro Moriyama, Mr. Kota Nakahama, Mr. Yoshimi Kojima and Mr. Akemitsu Kojima.

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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Nagasaki, 1959. To celebrate the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Nagasaki, Mr. Labib had a small 8-page pamphlet printed in English, Japanese and Persian. This is one of the pages. In the middle are the local spiritual assembly members. Top: Mr. Kazuyuki Miyazaki, Mr. Kiyoshi Seto and Mr. Noboru Ueda. Middle: Mr. Tamotsu Furudono, Mr. Akio Seki and Mr. Hidero Seshita. Bottom: Mr. Yoshizo Fujisawa, Mr. Muhammad Labib and Mr. Shigeo Hario.

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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Sapporo, 1959. Front row: Mrs. Kikue Kuzumaki, Miss Seiko Saida, Miss Hisako Takahashi, Mr. G. V. Tehrani and Mr. Yoshiro Sasaki. Back row: Miss Keiko Doi, Mr. Kinkichi Shimatani, Mr. Nobuo Takase and Mr. Kazuo Kuzumaki. Mr. Sasaki was the first person to become a Bahá'í in Hokkaido, and Mr. Shimatani the second. Mr. Tehrani, the first pioneer to settle in Hokkaido (1957) did many years of unforgettable service and was very much loved by all.


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The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ashiya, 1959. Seated are Mr. Nosratollah Mottahedin, Mrs. Moluke Kazempour, Mr. Kusuo Ida and Mrs. Fumi Ida. Standing are Mrs. Yasuno Sakashita, Mr. Abbas Kazempour, Mrs. Tahereh Kazempour, Mr. Shigenobu Okabe and Mrs. Faride Mottahedin.

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