A groundbreaking ceremony for the Sapporo Japan Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) was held Saturday amidst wind and rain, marking the beginning of the Church’s third temple in Japan and sixth in Asia.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Church’s First Quorum of the Seventy presided at the groundbreaking. He was joined by Elders Michael T. Ringwood and Koichi Aoyagi of the Seventy. Former Japan prime minister Yukio Hatoyama also attended the ceremony.
“I am thankful for this historic groundbreaking—even in this downpour,” Elder Stevenson said. “Everything today was wet with rain, but the spirit of the saints was not dampened at all. They came with their hearts open and with complete joy as they saw the image of the temple at the groundbreaking ceremony. You could see that their eyes and hearts were just filled with joy to know that they are going to have a house of the Lord on the island.”
Former prime minister Hatoyama expressed gratitude to the Church for its Japan earthquake and tsunami recovery efforts. Hatoyama also praised the church for its focus on strong families.
"With the recent Great East Japan Earthquake, you have made many social contributions in a spirit of service," Hatoyama said. "I cannot express my feelings toward your quiet service you have rendered with kindness, on behalf of the people affected, in performing debris removal and many other tasks. I pray that your social contributions will further expand here, in Sapporo, as the Sapporo Temple being constructed."
The Sapporo Japan Temple was first announced at the October 2009 general conference by President Thomas S. Monson. Dedicated in October 1980, the Tokyo Japan Temple was the first temple in Asia. The Fukuoka Temple was dedicated in June 2000 and became the eighty-eighth temple worldwide.
The Church, which has been in Japan since 1901, has 125,000 Latter-day Saints spread through 286 congregations.