October 27, 2008

By Hidemasa Nomura
JOCV (Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer) at Xavier

Seventy years ago, in 1938, The Mabuchi Construction Company (Yokohama, Japan) built a Japanese Navy communication Center on the island of Weno in Chuuk.

Since 1952 the building has been used as an educational institution at Xavier High School, managed by Society of Jesuits.

Mabuchi Co. Ltd will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding on October, 2009. As a part of the remembrance of this 100th anniversary the company explored the possibility of doing community service projects. On August 16, 2006, Japan's Asahi newspaper published an article about Xavier High School. Mabuchi answered inquiries from the newspaper confirming that they constructed the building for the Japanese Navy for use as a communication center.

The company took on the project of renovating the building and during the summer of 2008, they repaired and waterproofed the roof, and plastered and painted the exterior walls of the building. Fifteen Mabuchi workers and eight Xavier local workers worked on the project. All materials came from Japan.

On October 9, 2008 a ceremony was held at Xavier High School including such notables as the President Manny Mori, FSM President, and Chuuk State Governor Wesley Simina along with dignitaries of the Mabuchi Company, the Jesuit community, and local community leaders.

Father Jim Croghan gave the opening prayer. The Japanese and FSM National Anthems were played. Father Rich gave opening remarks saying that "the names 'Xavier' and 'Mabuchi' have been interchangeable for more than 50 years but many people never knew why Xavier was called Mabuchi. This ceremony is meaningful for the history of Xavier High School as now everybody knows who Mabuchi is".

In his welcoming remarks, Honorable Camillo Noket said "Mabuchi's return to Xavier High School to perform renovations and construction has felt like a renewal of an old friendship. Because of that renewed friendship, the school structure itself-the building, the walls, the old paint and the new-has become a symbol of the enduring bond between us".

In remarks from the Society of Jesus, Fr.Ken.Hezel,S.J. said, "This was the only building standing on this hilltop affectionately known locally as Mabuchi when I first came here as a teacher in 1960 when the Honorable Kasio Mida came as a freshman student. Now many years later, through a fortuitous set of circumstances, and the generosity of Mr.Mabuchi and his Board, along with the careful work of Mr.Nakajima (the superior on the building renovation project), and his companions, it has been preserved and made beautiful so that Jesuits and their colleagues can continue the important work of educating men and women for leadership in Micronesia to serve the needs of others".

Mabuchi Construction Company, Mr.Yoshikane Mabuchi said "As a 100th year memorial project, we decided to help reconstruct this main building. It is both an honor and a duty to show our gratitude by conducting this project. We hope Xavier High School will continue to produce many productive citizens for Micronesia and also (that) Xavier High School will continue to improve more and more".

Xavier High School Students Body President, Mr.Vincent Neth from Pohnpei gave a speech in both Japanese and English. He said, "This new Xavier signifies new hope. Hope in new and better challenges, hope in being open to new ideas, and the hope in being developed to be a supportive community to others. We have learned that making a difference now with little work of great compassion will have its major effects in the bigger picture of an improved Micronesia. Being leaders of tomorrow is and always will be our goal. However, in order for us to be great leaders tomorrow, we have to be good leaders today". Mr.Neth said that the Mabuchi Company's community service project will continue to inspire Xavier students in their community service projects to help others.

Many other people spoke at the ceremony including FSM Chief of staff Kasio Mida, Chuuk's Goverenor Wesley Simina, Japanese Ambassador to the FSM the honorable Shoji Sato, and Mr.Yoshikane Mabuchi. After the ceremony the gathered attendants moved to Callaghan Hall for lunch and entertainment. Xavier alumni provided the food. Xavier students entertained with Chuukese, Palauan, and Marshallese dances. The Japanese class at Xavier sang a Japanese song.