He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

« Home | 10 Prayer Challenges for Iran » | The Slow Life in Japan » | Looking at the Other Side of Illegal Immigration » | Japan 'Junior Idols' » | Adoption » | New Operation World » | 9 Prayer Challenges for Saudi Arabia » | My Only Victory is Jesus » | How Quickly Cute Becomes Creepy » | Misunderstanding: The Outward Form, Structure, and... » 

Thursday, December 17, 2009 

Please Read For Solid Understanding of Challenges Christianity Faces in Japan

In hopes that some will read this, I am highly editing this article to shorten to the main points. For that reason, parts may read like bullet points & not an article, so if you want to get the context, you can read the whole article. Please click on that link if you want the full story from globalpost.com.

In Japan, the Christmas spirit is not hard to find. Twenty-foot trees with blinking lights line shopping boulevards; department stores decorated in red-and-green bunting offer holiday sales; and Kentucky Fried Chicken, which has dressed Colonel Sanders in a Santa outfit, is offering the popular “Kentucky Christmas” meal for Dec. 25 — a family-sized bucket of chicken, salad and frosted “Christmas cake” for about $40.

Though Christianity was introduced by the Portuguese in the port-city of Nagasaki in the 1500s, it has had a rocky history here, banned outright for 250 years by the Japanese ruling shogunate. Persecuted Christians went underground in a movement known as the “hidden Christians” until the late 1800s. The legacy remains: Today, an estimated 1 percent of the 126 million Japanese identify themselves as Christian. By contract, in nearby South Korea, more than 25 percent of residents are said to be Protestant or Catholic.

Last month, Ichiro Ozawa, the secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, added insult to injury when he called Christianity “exclusive and self-righteous” while speaking to a Buddhist organization. Though Christian groups denounced Ozawa, he might have given voice to a more broadly held sentiment.

“In a way, he was expressing a mainstream Japanese idea,” said Brian Burke-Gaffney, a Nagasaki-based historian and author. “Traditionally, the Japanese have been influenced by Buddhism and Shintoism, where the ideal is to achieve coexistence [with nature], so the idea of being allied to one specific religion is not part of the Japanese DNA or psyche.”

For those Japanese who do find God, the process can be daunting. Tora Ishibashi, 29, an assistant nurse at a Nagasaki hospital and member of Garrott’s church, had a Jewish American grandfather and a Catholic step-grandfather, both of whom met his Japanese grandmother in the U.S. military base town of Sasebo outside of Nagasaki. Though he attended church occasionally growing up, he never believed in God.

But in college, he said, he was struggling with his classwork and sought out philosophy books to deal with his frustration. That’s when he picked up an animated Bible by Osamu Tezuka, the illustrator best known for the comic “Astro Boy.”

Ishibashi was hooked and, after a trip to meet Christian students in Las Vegas, of all places, he converted and was baptized. Jesus saves! But when he told friends back in Japan, they formed a support group to save Ishibashi — from Christianity.

...Miho Yoshida, 36, a part-time receptionist who was baptized at the church last month. She had attended Catholic school for a year in kindergarten, but only began attending services after her father died a few years ago. After spending three months in Canada this fall, she decided to convert. But Yoshida, like Ishibashi, was stung by the reaction of friends back home.

“I had been depressed and was on medication and, when I told my friend I had become a Christian, she asked if I was still taking my pills,” Yoshida said.

Japan's rigid social structure, in which it is considered strange to try something out of the mainstream, makes it difficult to sell people on Christianity, said Yashushi Tomono, a pastor at the Nagasaki Baptist Church.“In Japan, the most important thing to a family is not what they think, but what other people think,” Tomono said. “It is very difficult for them to become Christians by themselves.”

Tomono added that many Japanese cannot square the idea that the United States, though often considered a Christian nation, is involved in two ongoing wars. “Japanese ask why America is not opposed to war,” he said. “That is a big stumbling block.”

Despite the issues I have with Japanese issues, that is a pretty good representation of the perception of Christianity in Japan. Please pray for the work remaining. For all the "stumbling blocks" that there are to the Japanese, I am convinced that the main issue is pride - an unwillingness to give up the throne of their own lives & crown the one, true King.

About me

  • I'm DR
  • From Exiled
My profile


The Bible Challenge

Test your knowledge of the Bible

This Day in History
Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates Visit www.esv.org to learn about the ESV Bible 9Marks Ministries
Locations of visitors to this page