It was during the area conferences held in Asia in August of 1975 that President Kimball announced that a temple would be built in Tokyo. The news was received with great joy among the thousands of Latter-day Saints who would benefit from having a temple much closer to home. In Tokyo, Manila, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Seoul the assembled members raised their right hands to signify their support for the proposed project. And as the crowds dispersed to their homes afterward, the news spread quickly to the members who had not been able to attend the conferences.
Immediately, families reviewed their finances, made plans to try to earn extra money. Wards and branches and stakes committed themselves to goals of contributing their share toward the building of a temple. Not only would it be necessary to save and sacrifice for the actual building, but individuals and families knew that they must also begin saving and working toward the time when they could actually travel to the completed temple and receive the blessings that would await them there.
Now, five years after the announcement the temple stands complete, a House of the Lord, built for His honor and glory. It is also a monument to the faith and devotion and sacrifice of the Church members living in the temple district.
It might be well now to look back to the time when the temple was announced and review the words of President Kimball to the people who would be using the temple.
“The Lord said: ‘I deign reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.’ (D&C 124:41). He indicates that this revealed truth should come to the people in a house built for his name for the purpose. The Lord said that all of the anointings, baptisms for the dead, and solemn assemblies, memorials, and oracles should be done in these holy places, the temples, and the revelations pertaining to the foundation of Zion should be received here. All such sacred matters should be attended to in such a building as he commanded to be built.
“The Lord selected sites in Independence, Missouri, in the United States, and elsewhere for temples. The Lord commanded that a temple be built in Kirtland, Ohio, in America, where his elders could receive their endowments and their blessings. After the people were beginning to get settled and established and the Church organization was being completed, the Lord revealed to his prophets and commanded that the temple be built. He said: ‘And build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein.’ [D&C 124:27]
“‘For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood. For a baptismal font there is not upon the earth, that they, my saints, may be baptized for those who are dead.’ (D&C 124:28–29).
“The Lord made it clear that his people had always been a temple-building people. He said: ‘For this cause I commanded Moses that he should build a tabernacle, that they should bear it with them in the wilderness.’ (D&C 124:38).
“And now we bring to you a matter of grave importance to all of the people of the Asian countries and the world. Yesterday, we held a meeting of the stake presidents and other leaders to consider this very serious matter. Brother Matthew Cowley, one of the Twelve Apostles, made a prediction that there would be temples in Asia and in Japan. And many of us have been almost holding our breath until the time could come when we could build a temple in this land. We, therefore, propose to you assembled here that we establish a temple in Tokyo, Japan, for all of Asia.
“We must lengthen our stride to teach the gospel to the millions living and also to do genealogical work and begin in the temples of the Lord to do the work for the dead.
“The Lord quoted Isaiah as having spoken of the prisoners in the prison who needed to have the doors opened to them (See Isa. 42:7 and Luke 4:18.) This is why we, the people of the Lord’s Church, must be very valiant in teaching the gospel, giving the priesthood, and opening the doors to the people in the spirit world.
“Now we rejoice with you and pray that the Lord will bless you and prosper you so that you may do what you would like to do in this matter. We hope that every child and every youth and every grown person will become a participator in this great work. And then we hope that every member of the Church will remain clean and virtuous and be able to use the temple for the purposes for which it is built. It was Isaiah who said, ‘Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.’ (Isa. 52:11.)
“We are engaged in a great undertaking to furnish a temple to take care of the people who have passed away. We hope that you will show to the Lord your great thanks and gratitude for his inspiring the building of a temple in your area.”
“It seemed that the best place to build this temple would be in Japan because it is the largest center of the Church in Asia. There are more members there than anywhere else in this part of the world.
“We are hoping that every boy or girl who marries will want to be married in the holy temple and that he or she will save money so that this goal can be accomplished, so that their little children will be born in the covenant, and so that they can grow up knowing that they have a father and mother forever—throughout all eternity.
“We hope that every family that has joined the Church in the Philippines Islands will plan to go to the temple to have the father and mother sealed to each other, not just until they die, but as long as they live upon the earth and then throughout all eternity, and that all of their children either will be born under the covenant or will be sealed to their parents by the holy priesthood.
“Brothers and Sisters, we are so proud of you here. We hope that someday you have so many people in the Philippines who will be members of the Church that we may be compelled to build a temple in this country.”
“Last Saturday there was a great announcement made in Tokyo, Japan, that we would build a temple in Japan, and this would be for all of the people of Asia. I am sure that you would like to have a temple here in your own land, but it takes many, many people to operate a temple. And so we have hopes, probably as you do, that the day will come when there could be a temple here. In the meantime, we will build a temple for the Asian countries in Japan. And we hope that the shorter distance to Japan will enable you, nearly all of you, eventually to go to the temple for your sacred endowments.
“We hope that all of these boys and girls will plan their marriages in the holy temple. Perhaps they can begin to save their money even now so that when the time comes, they can have the ordinances completed in the holy temple of God.
“There could be little progress if there were no temples for the temple work to be done. And so we urge you, as families, to get busy with your genealogical data. For centuries you have been a family-oriented land and people. Perhaps you will not have as much difficulty tracing your genealogy back as we might have. You have had many ancestors for centuries who have been good people. Many of them would have joined the Church if it would have been available to you and to all of your ancestors.”
“One of the elements of the gospel that probably attracted you most when you were investigating the Church was the great work being done for the living and the dead in the holy temples. We hope that all of you young people have already planned that you will try to go to the holy temple for your eternal marriage. We hope that all of you parents have planned, to the best of your ability, to collect and save funds to take yourselves to the holy temple and to tie your families together.
“The temple will be for you. We hope that you will use it. We hope that you will serve in it. It takes many hundreds of people to build a temple and also to keep it in working order. There are millions, billions of people to be baptized for in this holy temple. Men who hold the higher priesthood are needed to confer the Holy Ghost upon these people. It takes many, many women and men to perform the other ordinances of sealings and instructions.
“We are certain that the joys that will come to you through the temple work that can get done in this building will make you very happy indeed. The Lord bless you as you proceed to build the building and as we keep it going night and day.”
“This people is a people who love their ancestors. In an article in one of the Church magazines, we learned that one of your brethren has found seventy generations of ancestors. We commend him and you for whatever you do in this respect.
“Why have you been inspired to gather your genealogical data? Undoubtedly it was in preparation for the opportunities that are at hand for you when the temple work must be done by the living for the dead. You have numerous ancestors who have died and have been in their graves for long years. Undoubtedly they are waiting in the spirit world for you, their descendants, to get busy and do the work for them in the holy temples of the Lord.”