Japan, The Catholic Church in
JAPAN, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
Christianity first came to Japan in the mid-16th century. The history of Christianity in Japan is closely connected with the history of Japan's relations with the West. Although the population of Christians remained small at the beginning of the 21st century, Christian churches continued to play a significant role in shaping the Japanese society through their higher educational institutions, medical institutions and public think-tanks.
Background. The Japanese islands were partially unified in the early 3rd century a.d. under Queen Himiko who pacified the warring ruling clans, set up her court at Yamatai and, relying on her religious powers as priestess, ruled over a confederation of more than 30 states. Subsequent contacts with China and Korea led to the Japanese adopting Chinese culture, writing, art and Confucianism. Complete political unification was achieved around the beginning of the 5th century a.d. under the Yamato rulers. With the achievement of political unification, Japanese civilization grew in stature and power from its center, first at Nara in the 8th century a.d., and then at Heian (modern Kyoto) from the latter part of the 8th century onwards. From the late 12th century until the mid-19th century, Japan was ruled by various military rulers who imposed varying degrees of isolationism. This self-imposed isolationism was broken in the 19th century by Commodore Perry, ushering in a new wave of modernization. In their determination to place Japan on par with the European colonial powers, the Japanese ruling elite embarked on a disastrous path of military expansion in Asia, leading to confrontation with the United States and its allies and to defeat in World War II. In the ensuing period, the Japanese people rebuilt their society and achieved spectacular economic growth, vaulting their nation to the forefront of the global economy.
Japanese Religion. The primitive religion of Japan, Shintō, the "Way of the Gods"(in Japanese, Kami ), originated as a form of nature worship which deified the forces of nature and fostered ancestor worship. The Shintoism described in the early Japanese historical works, Kojiki (a.d. 712), Nihon Shoki (720), and others, had as its central theme the myth of the sun goddess Amaterasu, who was worshiped also as the ancestral mother of the imperial family. This ancestral connection resulted in Shintoism's continuing link with the national emperor worship (in Japanese, Tennō ). Confucianism was introduced from China and exercised a significant influence on Japanese culture in tandem with native ancestor worship and national emperor worship. Buddhism was introduced from China by way of Korea in the 6th century a.d., and owed its rapid success to imperial patronage, the allure of monastic life and its unlimited adaptability, which made possible not only its assimilation to Japanese folkways, but also its syncretistic combination with Shintoism. Within Buddhism, the Amida (Pure Land), Nichiren (Lotus Sutra) and the many schools of Zen Buddhism captured Japanese popular imagination. The vitality of Nichiren Buddhism, an entirely indigenous Japanese Buddhist school, inspired many Japanese new religious movements in the twentieth century (e.g., Soka Gakkai and Rissho Kosei-kai ).
HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN JAPAN
Origins. After the Portuguese opened trade relations with Japan (1543), St. francis xavier met three Japanese at Malacca (December 1547). Six months later they were received into the Church as the first converts. Accompanied by them and by Father Cosme de Torres and Brother John Fernandez, both Jesuits, Francis Xavier landed in Kagoshima in the southern part of Kyushu Island (Aug. 15, 1549). Because neither the Emperor nor the Ashikaga shogunate possessed real control of the country, the first missionaries had to rely on the consent of the local lords to begin their apostolate. During his stay in Japan (1549-51) Xavier founded communities in Kagoshima, Hirado, Yamaguchi, and Funai (Oita) with a total of about 800 Catholics. Assured of protection for the missionaries by Otomo Yoshishige, the most influential daimio in Kyushu, Xavier departed from Japan (November 1551).
Early Successes. His successor, Torres, directed activities until 1570, during a period of recurring civil war. Lack of priests, opposition from Buddhist bonzes, and imprudent zeal of some missionaries and new converts greatly hampered Christian progress during these years. Brother Luis d'Almeida, a very capable physician and merchant from Lisbon, who had joined the Jesuits in Japan in 1556, made a significant contribution to the expansion of Christianity in southern Japan by dedicating his fortune to establish a foundling home (1556) and a hospital (1557) in Funai, and by founding the missions in Omura, on the Shimabara Peninsula, on Goto and Amakusa Islands (1562-70), and in Nagasaki. In Kyushu many converts were from the lower class, but in central Japan Father Vilela and Brother Lourenço, joined later by Father Luis Frois, converted many noblemen. Kyoto, Sakai, and Iimori became the first Christian centers there.
When Torres died (October 1570), Japan had about 30,000 Christians. Under his strong-willed successor Francisco Cabral, SJ (1570–81), the converts included the feudal lords of Arima and Amakusa, and Otomo Sorin of Bungo and about 100,000 in Kyushu. The Lord of Omura had been baptized in 1563. After 1568 the missionaries in central Japan enjoyed the protection of Oda Nobunaga, the pioneer of the movement that led to the restoration of a strong central government in a united Japanese Empire. After moving his headquarters from Gifu to Azuchi, Nobunaga gave the Jesuits a property near his new castle. Nearby, Father Organtino dedicated the
newly constructed church to Our Lady of the Assumption (Nambanji) in Kyoto (Aug. 15, 1577) and also constructed a seminary and another church.
During the last three years of Nobunaga's reign (1579–82), Alessandro valignano made his first official visit to Japan as Jesuit visitor general. In lower Kyushu he received a rather poor impression. Several lords had become Christians from self-interest and had compelled their vassals to follow their example without sufficient preparation. Mass conversions in Arima were followed by mass desertions because of the attitude of the local lord. After visiting nearly all Christian centers and interviewing missionaries, catechists, and many Christians, Valignano reorganized the Japanese mission. To remedy the scarcity of missionaries, Valignano founded a novitiate and a college for the spiritual and scientific training of young Jesuits and also two seminaries for the education of boys desiring to become priests or catechists. He ordered European missionaries to study the Japanese language more thoroughly and to adapt themselves to Japanese ways. Since Cabral, the superior of the mission, opposed these changes, Valignano removed him from office (1581) and appointed in his place Gaspar Coelho, who became the first Jesuit vice provincial of Japan. A few months before leaving Japan, Valignano conceived the plan of taking along with him some young Japanese nobles as envoys from the Christian daimios of Bungo, Arima, and Omura, to the pope and the king of Spain. By means of this embassy Valignano hoped to arouse more European interest in Japan and to obtain material support for the Church there. He wanted also to give the young Japanese an opportunity to contact European culture. The envoys left Japan (Feb. 20, 1582), accompanied by Valignano as far as India, and by Father Diogo Mesquita from there to Rome and then back to Japan (1582–90). At the end of Valignano's first visitation Japan had about 150,000 Christians, two-thirds of whom lived in Kyushu.
After Nobunaga's assassination (1582), his most capable general, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (generally known by his title Taikosama), son of a woodcutter, inherited his master's territories and carried on the work of unifying
the country. Like Nobunaga, Hideyoshi was an enemy of the militant bonzes and for some years showed a rather favorable attitude toward Christianity. When the powerful anti-Christian Shimazu from southern Kyushu were on the point of subduing to their rule the entire island of Kyushu (1586–87), Hideyoshi acceded to the requests of the Otomo and Father Coelho by coming to their rescue with an army of 200,000. In Hideyoshi's service were Konishi Yukinaga and his father Ryusa, Takayama Ukon, Kuroda Yoshitaka, and other fervent Catholics. Through their efforts new churches were erected in Osaka, Sakai, Takatsuki, and Akashi. After Hideyoshi subdued Kyushu, he bestowed half of its fiefs on Christian lords.
The First Great Persecution. It was at this time that the first severe blow struck the Church and its 200,000 members. At the instigation of the former bonze Seyakuin Senso, a personal foe of Takayama Ukon and a bitter enemy of Christianity, Hideyoshi sent Ukon into exile and published a decree ordering the missionaries to leave Japan within 20 days (July 24, 1587). The real reasons for Hideyoshi's change of attitude are still imperfectly known. Most likely he was deeply offended by Coelho's refusal to deliver to him a well-armed ship, by the refusal of the Portuguese captain to bring his ship to Hakata, and by the refusal of other Christians to sacrifice their faith in exchange for Hideyoshi's favor. Most of the missionaries assembled in the port of Hirado, but others went into hiding. Since Hideyoshi did not enforce his decree for long, almost all the missionaries remained in Japan, under the protection of the Christian lords of Kyushu.
Before news of Hideyoshi's anti-Christian edict reached Europe, Pope Sixtus V created (Feb. 19, 1588) the Diocese of Funai (Oita), the first see in Japan. About the same time Valignano, accompanied by the four returning Japanese envoys, revisited Japan (1590–92). This time he came as ambassador of the Portuguese viceroy of India. Valignano and his entourage were received in audience by Hideyoshi (March 3, 1591). Although Valignano could not persuade Hideyoshi to abrogate his edict, he was allowed to move freely about Japan and received permission for ten priests to stay in Nagasaki.
In 1592 Juan Cobo, OP, arrived from Manila as an envoy of the governor of the Philippines. After Cobo's tragic death (1592), four Spanish Franciscans came to Japan from the Philippines on an embassy (1593). When they completed their business, they did not return home but remained in Japan and evangelized openly in Kyoto, Osaka, and Nagasaki. Two Franciscans and two Augustinians had visited Japan for two months in 1584 while on their way from Manila to China.
When the Spanish vessel San Felipe was stranded at Urado in Shikoku (Oct. 19, 1596), it started a fresh outbreak of Hideyoshi's anti-Christian animus. At his order the ship's rich cargo was confiscated and 26 Christians (six Franciscans, three Jesuits, and 17 Japanese lay persons) were put to death in Nagasaki on Feb. 5, 1597. These martyrs were canonized in 1862 (see japan, mar tyrs of). About that time most of the Christian lords were participating in the Korean war (1592–98), which ended soon after Hideyoshi's death (Sept. 16, 1598). For more than a year during this war Gregorio de Cespedes, SJ, and a Japanese Jesuit lay brother resided in Korea to minister to the Japanese Christian soldiers. During the years of restricted toleration (1587–98) the number of Christians came to exceed 300,000. Among the converts in central Japan (1595–96) were two sons of Maeda Munehisa, the governor of Kyoto; Oda Hidenobu, a grandson of Nobunaga; Hosokawa Okimoto; Kyogoku Takatomo; and Akashi Kamon. From 1598 to 1603
Valignano visited Japan for the third time, bringing with him Bp. Luis Cerqueira, SJ, the sole bishop who was permitted to reside in Nagasaki. He resided there until his death (Feb. 20, 1614). His predecessor, Bp. Pedro Martins (d. February 1598), had to leave Japan a few months after his arrival (1596) because of the new outbreak of persecution. Between the time of Hideyoshi's death and the outbreak of civil war (October 1600) many churches were rebuilt and more than 70,000 converts were won. When Konishi Yukinaga leagued with the enemy during the civil war, Tokugawa Ieyasu became enraged against Christianity. Konishi, the most influential Christian daimio, was put to death. Fortunately the Christian daimios Kuroda Yoshitaka and his son Nagamasa supported Ieyasu. This, coupled with the decided attitude of other Christian lords and an eagerness to continue trade with the Portuguese and Spaniards, made Ieyasu refrain from more hostile acts against Christianity.
The 17th-Century Suppression of Christianity. Ieyasu's somewhat tolerant attitude during the first decade of his rule permitted the Church to make notable progress. In 1601 the churches of Nagasaki, Kyoto, and Osaka were granted legal recognition. The Franciscans were allowed to build churches in Yedo (1599) and in Uraga (1608). The missionary personnel was greatly augmented.
By 1614 there were 140 Jesuits, 26 Franciscans, nine Dominicans, four Augustinians, and more than 400,000 Christians. From 1601 Nagasaki was the seat of the bishop and had a Jesuit college and novitiate, a seminary to train diocesan clergy, a printing press, and an academy of fine arts for the formation of painters and engravers; it became the most important Christian center. In 1611 Nagasaki had 11 churches and 40,000 Catholics. Between 1601 and 1614 Bishop Cerqueira ordained 15 Japanese priests (seven diocesan and eight Jesuits). Nevertheless, the Japanese Church's growth was greatly hampered by Ieyasu's anti-Christian edicts. Early in his reign he issued a decree forbidding all daimios and nobles to embrace Christianity. Christian lords were often urged to renounce their faith. As a result no mass conversions occurred after 1600, and many Christian lords abandoned their faith. For example, So Yoshitomo, Lord of Tsushima did so in 1600; Omura Yoshiaki, Mori Takamasa, and Goto Sumiharu, in 1606; and Arima Naozumi, in 1612 after his father's scandalous behavior in a bribery affair with Okamoto Daihachi, the Christian secretary of Ieyasu's minister Honda Masazumi. By that time Ieyasu, an ardent devotee of Buddhism since childhood, had become violently hostile to Christianity. Suden, a Zen priest; Hyashi Razan, a Confucian, Hasegawa Sahyoe, the governor of Nagasaki; and William Adams, an English sea pilot influenced this attitude; they were advisers of Ieyasu and bitter enemies of the missionaries. Another factor in Ieyasu's change of outlook was that by 1613 the prospects for expanded trade with the Spanish, Dutch, and English competitors had improved, and the activity of the Japanese fleet engaged in catching red seals had increased. These developments greatly reduced the importance of the Portuguese trade. Particularly injurious was the influence of William Adams, who in 1612 replaced João Rodriguez, SJ, as Ieyasu's commercial adviser. In this function he gave sinister interpretations to current events, such as the survey of the east coast by Vizcaino with the support of the daimio Date Masamune. Furthermore, an antigovernment conspiracy was discovered about the time that Masamune sent Hasekura Tsunenaga (Rokuemon) and Father Luis Sotelo with 150 Japanese as envoys to the king of Spain and the pope (1613–20).
The persecution edict of Jan. 27, 1614, manifested the intent of the Tokugawa regime to unify Japan by giving strong support to the national religions of Buddhism and Shintoism. The revival of Shintoism was inspired by the renaissance of Confucianism, which began c. 1600. The result of the edict was that all churches and missionary centers were destroyed within a year. More than 90 missionaries, together with Takayama Ukon, John Naito, and other leading Christians, had to leave Japan for Macau in China and Manila (November 1614); but at least 37 priests remained in the country to care for the faithful. After Ieyasu's death (April 17, 1616), the persecution grew in violence under his son Hidetada (1605–23); it reached its peak during the reign of Iemitsu (1623–51). To avoid depopulating entire districts, the persecutors resorted to increasingly cruel punishments, so that Christians would apostatize rather than face the horrors involved in martyrdom. It has been estimated that more than 4,000 Christians sacrificed their lives for their faith during this persecution.
This total does not include any of the 35,000 victims of the Shimabara rebellion (1637–38), which was caused by the intolerable fiscal exploitation of the poor peasants in the Shimabara Peninsula by Matsukura Shigeharu. This uprising developed later into a religious war and incited the Tokugawa government to sever all commercial relations with the Portuguese (July 5, 1639). The Dutch came to be the only Europeans allowed to have a factory on Deshima in Nagasaki. When a group of 74 Portuguese from Macau came to Nagasaki in 1640 in a last effort to reopen trade relations, 61 of them were put to death. The survivors were forced to witness the execution of their companions before being sent back to Macau with the warning that "Even if King Felipe himself, or even the God of the Christians, or the great Buddha contravened this prohibition, they shall pay for it with their heads!" The last missionaries to Japan came in 1642 and 1643; they were quickly arrested, tortured, and executed. It was not until 1708 that another priest came. When Giovanni Sidotti, an Italian secular priest, landed at Yakushima (1708) he was arrested, imprisoned in Yedo, and interrogated by the famous Confucian scholar and statesman Arai Hakuseki (1657–1725). After converting his guard, Sidotti was thrown into an underground cell, where he died from starvation (Nov. 15, 1715).
Mid-19th Century Revival. For about two centuries the Church in Japan was cut off from contacts with the outside world. In 1844 Father Theodore Forcade, of the Paris Foreign Mission Society (MEP), disembarked at Naha in the Ryukyu Islands. He remained there until 1846 without being able to proceed farther. Not until Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. Navy induced (1853–54) Japan to open its doors to foreigners was it possible for another Paris Foreign Mission priest, Louis Théodore Furet to accompany a French commandant to Japan as an interpreter for a short while in 1855. After the United States, England, Russia, and France had concluded commercial treaties with Japan (1858–59), Paris Foreign Mission priests received permission to dwell in Yokohama (1859), Hakodate (1859), and Nagasaki (1863). It was in Nagasaki that Bernard Petitjean, MEP discovered (on March 17, 1865) a group of descendants of 17th-century Christians who had preserved their faith for two centuries in secret, despite persecutions and lack of priests. Later discoveries revealed that there were more than 15,000 such Christians in Kyushu. As the result of a new outbreak of persecution (1867–73) more than 4,000 Nagasaki Catholics were exiled. Many of them died from starvation and other forms of mistreatment.
Religious freedom was granted tentatively in 1873. The Meiji constitution of Feb. 11, 1889 gave a permanent guarantee of this liberty. This changed atmosphere permitted the bishops of Japan and Korea to hold in Nagasaki their first synod (March 1890). In 1890 the first regional seminary for Japan was established in Nagasaki. By 1894, 23 Japanese had been ordained there. In 1891 Pope Leo XIII established the Japanese hierarchy. The Archdiocese of Tokyo became the metropolitan see, with Hakodate, Osaka, and Nagasaki as suffragans. Previous to this, the single vicariate apostolic for all of Japan, created March 27, 1846, had been divided in 1876 into a northern and southern vicariate. The Vicariate of Central Japan was created in 1888. The Prefecture Apostolic of Karafuto was created in 1938. Tokyo was the scene of both the second (1895) and third (1924) synods of Japanese bishops. In 1925 a second regional seminary was opened in Tokyo. In 1946 the Jesuits assumed charge of it and subsequently incorporated it into the Catholic Sophia University.
The Paris Foreign Mission Society pioneered the 19th-century apostolate in Japan. Next to arrive were the Sisters of St. Maur who came in 1873. The coming of other religious congregations of women since 1877 has permitted the inauguration of numerous educational and social welfare activities. Until 1899 foreign missionaries were allowed into the interior of Japan under close supervision that required them to possess special passports. They were forbidden also to possess any residence and property outside the foreign concessions. These restrictions disappeared in 1899 when the whole of Japan was opened to foreigners. To provide adequate missionary personnel, the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith in 1904 invited other religious institutes to send members to Japan. In reply the Marianists, whose educational work in Japan started in 1888, dispatched more members; so did the Trappists, whose first arrival was in 1896. Dominicans came in 1905; and the Society of the Divine Word in 1907. The Franciscans returned in 1906 and the Jesuits in 1908. The Paris Foreign Mission Society (MEP), which in Japan as elsewhere was always specially intent on training candidates for the priesthood, sent ten Japanese seminarians to Penang, Malaysia, in 1868 at the outbreak of persecution. Once persecution had ceased, they returned to Japan. The first three Japanese priests were ordained in 1882.
The Japanese mission undertook an educational apostolate early. After the Meiji restoration, however, the field of elementary education became more and more a government monopoly and the Church concentrated on Catholic secondary schools. The Marianists opened (1888) the first middle school for boys. Various religious orders opened secondary schools for girls from 1900 onwards. The first Catholic University (Sophia) was started in 1913 in Tokyo by the Jesuits, who were entrusted with this task by Pope Pius X. Catholic charitable works aroused admiration among non-Christians, particularly the care of the plague-stricken during the cholera epidemics of 1886 and 1890, the housing of abandoned girls, and the direction of leprosaria.
The imperial rescript on education (Oct. 30, 1890) imposed on all the cult of the imperial ancestors as a sacred duty of the Japanese people. After the outbreak of hostilities with China (1894) the influence of the militarist party, anti-Christian campaigns by intellectuals, such as Inoue Tetsujiro (1855–1944) and others set up new barriers against the progress of Christianity. The prospects for Christianity became even less enviable after the outbreak of the Manchurian war (1931), when Shintoism was identified with patriotism. The very existence of Catholic schools and, with them, the existence of the Church itself, was seriously menaced in 1932. A new threat came in 1939 with the promulgation of the Religious Organization Bill, which aimed to place all religious personnel and activities under close government control. The resignation of all foreign ordinaries and their replacement by Japanese bishops saved the Catholic Church in Japan from further government interference. During World War II most foreign priests were repatriated; many churches, convents, and schools were destroyed, and 13,097 Catholics, including 15 priests, lost their lives.
Rebuilding. The new democratic constitution (Nov. 3, 1946) imposed by the United States on Japan guaranteed complete freedom of religion to all. As the Catholic population increased, new dioceses were erected. Nagasaki, which had been a diocese since 1891, became in 1959 an archdiocese and metropolitan see, with Fukuoka, Hiroshima, and Kagoshima as suffragans, to which was added Oita in 1961. The apostolic delegation, established in 1919, was elevated to the status of internunciature on April 28, 1952.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN JAPAN SINCE VATICAN II
The Impact of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council brought about major changes in the practices and attitudes of Japanese Catholics. The change that had the greatest ramifications was the introduction of Japanese language and artistic forms in the liturgy. George Hirschboeck, MM, director of the Catechetical Center in Kyoto, was among the first to apply the insights of Vatican II in the Japanese Church. His team of catechists, trained at the Jesuit East Asian Pastoral Institute in Manila, produced literature and sponsored workshops on the new directions of the Church in mission. Kakichi Kadowaki, SJ, East-West Religious Research director at Sophia University, promoted Japanese art forms that combined Buddhist tradition, Zen practice, and Christian prayer. Father Kadowaki also produced ancient Noh drama with Christian themes in Japan and Europe. From the 1970s onwards, the Japanese Church became a sending Church. A Japanese lay mission organization was formed under Bishop Fumio Hamao, with members in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia. Japanese missioners, clerical, religious, and lay, went abroad to serve the Church in 47 countries in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and Oceania.
National Incentive Congresses. The desire to make the Christian presence more widely felt in Japanese society took new directions after Pope John Paul II's visit to Japan in 1981. The pope inspired a strong sense of Catholic identity and emphasized the responsibility of the local church for evangelization. This prompted the Japanese Bishops' Conference in June 1984 to publish a statement, "Basic Policies and Priorities of the Catholic Church in Japan." This paved the way for the first National Incentive Congress on Evangelization (NICE), Nov. 20–23, 1987, which brought together bishops, clergy, religious, and laity in Kyoto. Working on the theme of "Building an Open Church," the congress produced two important initiatives: to bring the light of the Gospel to social issues, and to build programs for lifelong growth in faith. One result was the establishment of a Japan Catholic Research and Training Center in Nagoya. A decade later, NICE II met in Nagasaki, Oct. 21–24, 1993, with the theme "to look for the ideal way of evangelization through the reality of the family."
Educational Ministry. The Christian contribution to the educational world of Japan is well-known and documented. Protestant missionaries founded the universities of Rikkyo (St. Paul), Aoyama, and Doshisha. The Jesuits operate Sophia University in Tokyo, while the Divine Word Society operates Nanzan University in Nagoya. Religious communities of women have operated distinguished colleges for girls, such as Sacred Heart, Shirayuri, and Futaba in the Tokyo area. In the Kyoto Diocese, Notre Dame Women's College was established by the School Sisters of Notre Dame from St. Louis in 1961. The chaos of 1969, when university administrators battled rioting students, resulted in the Japanese Ministry of Education taking control of university education. In the ensuing reorganization, all church-run universities and colleges lost their independence and autonomy. In return, the government subsidizes the operating costs of private universities and colleges.
Justice and Peace. One of the early results of Vatican II was the establishment of the Justice and Peace Office of the Bishops' Conference. Bishop Nobuo Soma took over this responsibility in the mid-1970s and built a very influential force for Christian justice in Asia. In the 1970s, the Japanese Justice and Peace Office brought to world attention the repression and exploitation of the Church in the Philippines during the Marcos era. In the early 1980s, it publicized the oppression endured by the South Korean Church under the military dictatorship, and appealed to the United Nations on behalf of the people of East Timor in their struggle for freedom. After Pope John Paul II's visit to Hiroshima and his worldwide "Peace Appeal" in February 1981, the Japanese Bishops' Conference issued a statement titled "Peace and the Japanese Catholic Church Today," which emphasized the importance of peace education and the participation of the whole Church in peace making. Episcopal concern led the Church to work with other Japanese religious leaders for world peace.
Subsequent Catholic justice and peace efforts have targeted two areas of discrimination within Japan: the Burakumin problem ("the Fourth Class") and Korean residents in Japan. The Kyoto Justice and Peace Council brought the issue of the Burakumin to its national gathering in 1978. Members of the Burakumin, a segregated community easily identified by their registration papers, were objects of prejudice in marriage arrangements and employment. In December 1987 the Catholic Church dropped the requirement that those seeking marriage provide copies of their family registries. The situation of Korean residents predated World War II. Korean laborers were seized, brought to Japan and forced to work in industrial plants. After the war many Koreans remained in Japan, forming a minority community of some 700,000 in 1993. Initially, as aliens, they had to be fingerprinted and were frequently discriminated against. In February 1984 the Episcopal Commission for Social Activities petitioned the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, and the Home Affairs Minister to repeal the fingerprinting requirement of the Alien Registration Law. Father Edouard Brzostowski, a missionary, dramatized the issue in October 1984 by refusing to be fingerprinted, and other foreign missioners did likewise. Active awareness movements led to the revision of the fingerprinting law in 1987. Second and third generation Koreans born in Japan no longer needed to be fingerprinted, but other aliens were still required to be fingerprinted upon arrival in Japan.
Interfaith Dialogue Another area where the influence of Vatican II has been felt is the relationship of the Church to non-Christian religions. Jesuit pioneers Heinrich Dumoulin and Enomiya Lasalle had introduced Zen and its prayer forms to the Japanese Church and seminarians in the 1950s and 1960s. After the Council Dominican Shigeto Oshida established a rural farm where he conducted Bible studies and reflection groups in a Japanese Zen pattern. Xaverian Franco Sottocornola set up Seimeizan in Kumamoto in 1987 as an inter-religious dialogue temple where Buddhist and Christian traditions meet in mutual respect. In 1979 Jan Van Bragt, CICM, organized an ongoing exchange of Buddhist and Christian monks. Four years later, 17 European monks visited Kyoto to experience the Buddhist monastic life. August 1987 witnessed a gathering of world religious leaders for a Religions Peace Meeting at the Japanese Buddhist center on Mt. Hiei, above Kyoto.
A certain ambivalence, however, marks the attitude of the average Japanese Catholic towards interreligious dialogue. At one level, it seems to have made little practical difference in their faith. Like most other Japanese, Catholics regard multiple religious affiliation as normal. It is common practice in Japan for a person to be taken to a Shinto shrine as a baby, to celebrate a Christian wedding, and to have a Buddhist funeral. On another level, Japanese Catholics recognize the spiritual implications of cooperating with leaders of other religions in peace movements, social concerns, and environmental issues.
Ecumenical Relations and Cooperation. Although Dutch and British Protestants had commercial relations with Japan from about 1600, they did not inaugurate mission activities until 1859. Among the first arrivals were the American Episcopalian Channing M. Williams (1859) and the Presbyterians Hepburn (1861), Werbeck (1861), and Thompson (1863). Protestants completed the translation into Japanese of the New Testament (1880) and of the Old Testament (1887). As early as 1877 several Protestant groups started to merge into one association. Since 1890 this association has been called Nippon Kirisuto Kyôkai (Church of Christ in Japan). The Russian Orthodox Church was introduced in Japan in 1861 by Ivan Kasotkin (Nicolai), who was subsequently canonized in 1970 for his role in establishing Orthodox Christianity in Japan. Constituting less than one percent of the population, Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants find themselves a minority in the Japanese world. They have combined efforts in justice and peace activity, social programs, and prayer meetings. Activists in both communities find a mutual understanding and purpose in confronting public issues, and charismatics from both traditions find it congenial to pray together. One great achievement of the Japanese ecumenical movement is the common Bible translation of 1987 that forms the basis of worship for both Catholics and Protestants.
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