A large white-and-blue truck pulls up outside a stadium in central Japan and slowly expands into a place of worship.
Welcome to the Mobile Mosque.
As Japan prepares to host visitors from around the world for the 2020 Summer Olympics, a Tokyo sports and cultural events company has created a mosque on wheels that its head hopes would make Muslim visitors feel at home.
The possibility that there might not be enough mosques for Muslim visitors in 2020 is alarming for a nation that considers itself part of the international community, Yasu Project CEO Yasuharu Inoue said.
His Mobile Mosques could travel to different Olympic venues as needed.
“As an open and hospitable country, we want to share the idea of omotenashi [Japanese hospitality] with Muslim people,” he said in an interview.
The first Mobile Mosque was unveiled earlier this week outside Toyota Stadium, a J-League soccer venue in Toyota City, which is also the headquarters of the car company with the same name.
The back of the modified 23-tonne truck flipped up to reveal an entrance and then the side slid out, doubling the width of the truck.
The 48m2 room can accommodate 50 people.
Muslim guests prayed inside the mosque, which includes outdoor taps and a washing area for pre-worship cleansing.
Indonesian students who were victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami also participated in the debut ceremony.
“The Mobile Mosque is very important to Muslim people such as Japanese people or tourists, Muslim tourists who visit Japan,” 14-year-old Nur Azizah said. “I want to show my friends.”
Japanese guest Tatsuya Sakaguchi expressed hope that the Mobile Mosque would help open people’s minds worldwide.
“Looking in from the outside at the people in the mosque, they looked very happy,” said Sakaguchi, the representative director of an Osaka retail company.
Inoue said the inspiration for the project came to him on a trip to Qatar four years ago.
Initially, the project organizers plan to target international sporting events in Japan and overseas.
Inoue said he hopes the project would do more than fill a gap in religious infrastructure.
“Going forward, I would be so happy if people from Indonesia, Malaysia, Africa, the Middle East and, for example, refugees who are coming from Syria are able to use the mosque as a tool to promote world peace,” he said.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big