Professor Shinzo Kato, Faculty of Nursing and Medical Care, Keio University

Launching Spirituality on Science

──What is spiritual care in the future?

There are values and outlooks on life that each person cherishes in his or her life. Spiritual pain is a situation in which one cannot have hope with their values due to illness or difficulty they face. Their soul is screaming.
Spiritual care requires the person to rewrite the story of life. One way is for someone to tell a story to him. It is done by prophets and fortune-tellers. However, in such a case, every time something goes wrong, he has to go to the same person and he becomes dependent. I don’t think it is the essence of spiritual care.
I think that it is the original spiritual care that helps the person himself to rewrite the story himself. We ask them to look back on how they have lived and what kind of life they have lived, and help them realize what values they should change in this situation.
This is an interpretation of a story rewrite to care for spiritual pain, but the true spiritual care is to care for the person’s soul. It was my encounter with Father Waldemar Kippes that inspired me to have such an idea.
Father Kippes is the first person in Japan to publish a book called “Spiritual Care” and to promote spiritual care. When I met Father Kippes for the second time, he said, “I want you to help spread spiritual care in Japan.” That day was exactly 50 years since Father Kippes came to Japan as a priest, and it was also my 50th birthday. Many of these mysterious ties overlapped, and I came to accept spiritual care as my lifework.
Around the same time, I met religious scholars Susumu Shimazono, Soho Machida, and cultural anthropologist Kiko Ueda. I also met many doctors who are members of Christianity, Buddhism, and/or new religions.
In 2017, we launched the “Meeting for the Solidarity of Faithful Medical Professionals” as a gathering to openly discuss with these people what the soul is and how to care for it. This is a study group for discussions on the hypothetical premise that there are gods and souls.
Since science is the accumulation of universal and objectivity things that everyone recognizes, spiritual things that are difficult to prove have been removed at the stage of their development. Therefore, in the present science, it is established based on the premise that there is no god or soul.
However, the development of science in the medical field has already reached some extent. Many people realize that spiritual things cannot be excluded from clinical experience. That is why I want to set up spirituality on top of science. If many medical professionals deepen their understanding of spiritual care and such care is commonly practiced, it will lead to the happiness of patients and enrich human society. To that end, I would like to enrich this study group first.

──Thank you for your valuable story.

Shinzo Kato
Born in 1956. Graduated from Keio University School of Medicine in 1980. Medical doctor. After working as a researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in the United States, a medical director at Tokyo Metropolitan Hiroo Hospital, and a full-time lecturer at Keio University School of Medicine / Internal Medicine (Department of Gastroenterology), he is in his current position. His specialty is health science and pathological science. He aims to popularize medical information literacy for patients and spiritual care in Japan for end-of-life care. A public lecture “Patient Studies” is held every month. He has authored numerous books such as “Patient’s way of life-Better medical care and the recommendation of patient science “in life” and “Patient’s power-A new form of medical care found in patient science” (both by Shunjusha Publishing).

This article was published in the magazine “Rakuen” No. 76 (Summer 2019).



Dr. Shinzo Kato retired from Keio University in March 2021 and is currently working on daily medical care as a director of the Gyokusen Association of Medical Corporation and a director of MOA Takanawa Clinic.