Uemura Masahisa

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Uemura Masahisa (1858–1925). Pioneer Japanese Protestant Christian leader. Uemura was a member of the original Yokohama Band. A characteristic of early Japanese Protestantism was the formation of ‘bands’ of young Christians, the best-known other bands being the Sapporo Band, from which came Uchimura Kanzō, and the Kumamoto Band, from which came Niijima Jō. Enduring great privation in order to continue his education under American missionaries, Uemura never graduated formally from any school but read widely.

In 1890 he began publication of the bimonthly magazine Nihon Hyōron. His first important theological work, Shinri Ippan (Universal Truth), was published in 1884. He participated as a leader of growing importance in the organizational development of the Nihon Kirisuto Kyōkai (The United Church of Christ in Japan).

Uemura showed his independence of spirit when he published a statement in support of Uchimura Kanzō, after the famous disloyalty incident in 1891. Uemura was the first to propose the ordination of women as elders in the Nihon Kirisuto Kyōkai and in spite of opposition was able to secure the adoption of this policy, perhaps the first instance of the ordination of women as elders in the history of the Presbyterian-Reformed tradition anywhere in the world.