Charles E. McJilton

Maki Nibayashi

Advocate, Managing Editor, and Food Bank Japan Co-representative

Time in Japan:

9+ years

What brought you to Japan?
The USS Towers DDG9 in 1984.

What were your first impressions of Japan?
Sailing up Tokyo bay and seeing Mt Fuji in the winter was something I will never forget. Once I was out of the gates I realized everyone was my size. I was home.

What do you do now?
I have many different hats. I' managing editor for a Christian publication called Japan Christian Activity News. We cover a wide range of topics from Comfort Women and Jubilee 2000 to the image of Christianity in Japan and how Catholics and Protestants are working together. We can be reached at I'm also an advocate for foreign detainees, and co-representative for Food Bank Japan. Each day I might do several different things.

Please tell us a bit about Food Bank Japan.
Each day in Tokyo 6000 tons of food are thrown away. There must be a better way to reduce waste and get food to those who need it. Presently we have nearly 20 organizations registered with us ranging from open-air kitchens serving the homeless to women's shelters and a home for unwed mothers. These groups receive rice and other food products directly or indirectly from us on a regular basis.

What is the present situation regarding the homeless in Japan?
The face of the homeless is changing. It used be the typical person was male, in his late 50s or early 60s and a former day-laborer. These days it is not unusual to see husbands and wives living together in parks. You see a lot more "mainstream" people on the streets than say eight or nine years ago.

Are there a large number of homeless foreigners?
Not that I am aware of.

Why do you feel compelled to help the homeless in Japan?
Almost 21 years ago, I was given a second chance on life. My work is part repayment and part me liking to make a difference. Joseph Campbell once said, "People are not searching for the meaning of their life. Rather, people are seeking to feel alive." I feel alive doing what I do.

What can people do to help?
Food Bank Japan will host a homeless forum in English on November 18 (Saturday) at St Andrews Hall (behind St Albans) from 6-9pm. Come and learn what you can do to make a difference. If you cannot come, contact us at for more information. We need all kinds of talent. Japanese is not needed.

What other hands-on activities can people be involved with aside from attending the forum?
Churches such as the Franciscan Chapel Center, Tokyo Union Church and West Tokyo Union Church are all involved with preparing food and distributing it. These groups are always looking for fresh hands to help and you do not need to be a church member to participate. If you speak Japanese there are other groups doing similar work such as Nojiren in Shibuya, Shinjuku Renraku Kai in Shinjuku, and a whole host of groups in Sanya. Food Bank Japan can put you in contact with any of these groups.

What made you want to become involved in the first place?
While attending Sophia University I lived in a religious community in Sanya. Given my background and history, this work was tailor-made by the Divine.

Can you tell us what non-Japanese speaking people can do to help in your organization?
Food Bank Japan is not limited to serving the homeless. Rather, we see ourselves creating a bigger pie in which the homeless are but one recipient. In fact, we currently have 18 organizations registered with us that include a home for unwed mothers and women's shelters. But to build a viable organization with depth requires a wide range of skills, many of which you may not associate with feeding the hungry. People with skills from accounting to web designing and nutrition to marketing. If you have a skill and a desire to use it to make a difference, we can use you. Being the first, we are building the infrastructure in Tokyo from the ground up. Now, that's something that'll make you feel alive.

What's the one Japanese thing you can't live without?
My daughter and of course Mt Fuji on a clear day.

What's your recipe for a happy and successful life in Japan?
Learn the language, roll with the punches and catch each full moon.

For more information contact Charles at

Charles E. McJilton spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know someone who has an interesting life in Japan? Email us at

360: Gustavo Marchesi
Professional tango dancer
355: Alec McAulay
352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
Bond analyst and aspiring novelist
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
345: Chris Chavez
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
325: David Baran
Managing Partner, Compass Partners
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel

Issues 250-299

Issues 150-199