Construction has officially begun on the fourth temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Japanese soil. Home to more than 130,000 Latter-day Saints in over 260 congregations, Japan will now have a temple on its island chain of Okinawa.
Elder Takashi Wada, a General Authority Seventy serving as Asia North Area president, presided at the Okinawa Japan Temple’s Dec. 5 groundbreaking and offered the dedicatory prayer.
A small group of Latter-day Saint leaders and invited guests attended due to local government COVID-19 restrictions, Newsroom reported.
“Despite the small gathering, we are extremely grateful as we meet to consecrate this island for the building of a holy temple this day,” Elder Wada said.
The Okinawa Japan Temple will be located on a half-acre site at 7-11, Matsumoto, Okinawa Shi, in Okinawa-ken, Japan — about 600 miles southwest of the Fukuoka Japan Temple. Other temples in Japan are located in Sapporo and Tokyo, the latter currently under renovation.
In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Wada asked the Lord to watch over the people on the island and that all may “recognize the eternal significance of this sacred project.”
“We pray that we, and all those who pass near this site, will feel thy presence,” he prayed. “May the inspiring vista bless the entire community, including those not of our faith, and become a cherished landmark for all who live or visit here.”
Announced in the April 2019 general conference by President Russell M. Nelson, the Okinawa temple is planned to be a two-story, 10,000-square-foot temple. Plans also call for the addition of a temple-patron waiting area to an adjacent existing meetinghouse that was completed in 2013.
When Matt Silver heard the name of one of his former mission areas — Okinawa City, Okinawa — read from the Conference Center pulpit as the site of a new temple, his mind immediately visited the memories of the friendly Okinawans that he grew to love as a missionary about five years prior. He knew they have dreamed of a temple on their Japanese island.
“They have been fasting and praying for a temple for years,” Silver told the Church News. “A temple has been on their minds for a long time.”
The Okinawan people, he added, have deep feelings for their ancestors — so the family-centered purposes of the future temple will resonate with many. The Okinawan members are a combination of native Okinawans and American military personnel serving on the island.
On Sunday, Dec. 6, about 500 people from the Okinawa Japan Stake and the Okinawa Japan Military District are expected to virtually attend a devotional focusing on the purpose and blessings of temples.
A video of the temple groundbreaking event will be posted as soon as it is available.
By the end of December, ground will have been broken on 21 temples in 2020. The Church has 231 temples in various stages of operation or construction around the world.