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Beginning of Christianity in Japan

Akiyo Yonemoto, CND and Suzy Makougoum Kingue, CND

Father Yoshiki Sekiya, a Salesian priest, began our meeting by celebrating a Mass, during which Sister Augustine Matchuendem renewed her vows. After Mass, we enjoyed listening to the priest play and sing songs from his childhood. Then the presentation began.

The Jesuits introduced Christianity in Japan, in particular Francis Xavier in 1549. He met with the warlords who held the power; 30, 000 people were baptized. He began evangelizing Japan from “top to bottom”; first he evangelized the warlords and then the Japanese people whether rich or poor. Teaching Christian religion was forbidden in 1596-1597 and 26 martyrs were crucified in Nagasaki; the Tokugawa Shogunate banned Christianity: missionaries were expelled and, along with Christian repression, the country was closed in 1641. There was no entry into or exit from Japan. Japanese were forbidden to leave under penalty of death and no foreigner could enter.

Current Religious Outlook in Japan

Of note: 36 % of the Japanese population engage in faith-based practices. Buddhism represents 31 %, Christianity, 1 %, the remaining 4 % say they “believe in a religion.” Japanese people have faith! The number of people who say they believe in a religion remains unchanged because faith is transmitted in the family. Many Japanese go to temple once a year. Of the many holidays in Japan, the most beloved is Christmas.

What Characterizes Japanese People

We dare say that the Japanese people are courteous, honest, very obedient, sincere, very polite and respectful of rules. They are exceptionally punctual and prioritize the spirit of community. Timid and reserved by nature, Japanese people are not overly demonstrative of their emotions. Although they often show a smiling face, it is often just for appearance’s sake. In public, they seem to be harmonious with each other. That is why discussions progress very quickly. The importance given to a person’s place should be noted. However, the woman’s place is of lesser importance; her main role is that of a homemaker and often those who go to school or work leave after having a baby. It is important to emphasize that the Japanese are a people whose culture is one of shame, which is different from one of sin. They do not admit their weaknesses and their mistakes. For them, it is important to maintain dignity...

 

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