The Christian Post: Why So Few Christians in Japan?

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The Christian Post: Why So Few Christians in Japan?

Japanese people value human relationships more than truth and principle, said Dr. Minoru Okuyama, director of the Missionary Training Center in Japan, during his presentation at the Tokyo 2010 Global Missions Consultations.

"Because they are afraid of disturbing human relationships of their families or neighborhood... "Thus, Japanese make much of human relationships more than the truth. Consequently we can say that as for Japanese, one of the most important things is harmony; in Japanese 'Wa.'"

He added, "[T]hose who harm the harmony are bad, whether they are right or not has been beside the question."

https://www.christianpost.com/news/mission-leaderwhy-so-few-christians-in-japan-45217/

Comments

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,345

    I think there are several reasons why there are so few Christians in Japan. We know from Acts that God directs the gospel to certain people and withholds it from others.

    “They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. When they came to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this,” (Acts 16:6–7)

    But at the same time, all whom God intended to save will be saved.

    “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

  • GaoLuGaoLu Posts: 1,367

    I had a friend, a mentor, who served as a missionary their since the days of McCarthur. The work was hard, but some success. More workers needed.

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    @Dave_L said:
    I think there are several reasons why there are so few Christians in Japan. We know from Acts that God directs the gospel to certain people and withholds it from others.

    Bro. Dave,
    Please re-read what reference you have in mind in the full context of the chapter, the book, and the entire Bible. I have a serious problem with you saying as fact: "God directs the gospel to certain people and withholds it from others. What about the Great Commission of Matt 28:19-20? Please give more thought to your thoughts. CM

  • Dave_LDave_L Posts: 2,345
    edited February 2018

    @C_M_ said:

    @Dave_L said:
    I think there are several reasons why there are so few Christians in Japan. We know from Acts that God directs the gospel to certain people and withholds it from others.

    Bro. Dave,
    Please re-read what reference you have in mind in the full context of the chapter, the book, and the entire Bible. I have a serious problem with you saying as fact: "God directs the gospel to certain people and withholds it from others. What about the Great Commission of Matt 28:19-20? Please give more thought to your thoughts. CM

    Thanks for your thoughts. Why did the Holy Spirit forbid the Apostles from going into all the world on two separate occasions? Why did Jesus say “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.” (John 17:9). ?

  • MitchellMitchell Posts: 585

    @GaoLu said:
    I had a friend, a mentor, who served as a missionary their since the days of McCarthur. The work was hard, but some success.

    GaoLu, thank you for sharing! I would love to hear about you Mentor's experiences in Japan.

    @GaoLu said:
    More workers needed.

    I agree with you.

  • JanJan Posts: 280

    Although Japanese people tend to be outwardly curious and somewhat open minded, at the end of the day, they are deeply sceptical against anything non Japanese.

    In Cambodia I noticed they're forming their own small communities. They do the same in Germany. They're reluctant to learn the language of their host contries. They bring their culture with them, and try to shape their immediate environment to be as Japanese as possible.

    In Japan, where everything already is maximally Japanese, I can understand how Japanese people might not be interested in giving parts of that up (which in their view becoming a Christian undoubtedly would mean).

    We need to pray for a strong Church in Japan. Revival must start from within the local Church. I don't think it can be imposed onto Japan from the outside.

  • MitchellMitchell Posts: 585

    Hello Jan,

    Thank you for your input!

    @Jan said:
    In Cambodia I noticed they're forming their own small communities. They do the same in Germany.

    I would love to hear more about these communities! In the United States it seems that the Japanese no longer build physical Japanese communities or Japantowns (日本町 ) the way Chinese and Koreans do. There is a little Tokyo in L.A. and three more official Japantowns in the states. In terms of social Japanese expat communities and societies there more.

    @Jan said:
    They're reluctant to learn the language of their host countries.

    In the States and Canada the children of expats attend public schools and if they live in a city with a large Japanese population they might attend a weekend Japanese supplementary school. A few cities have a Monday to Friday Japanese primary and high school.

    @Jan said:
    In Japan, where everything already is maximally Japanese, I can understand how Japanese people might not be interested in giving parts of that up (which in their view becoming a Christian undoubtedly would mean).

    Many I meet tend to think that Christianity is a western religion, or that all western are by default Christian. Many have no idea that Jesus was born in Asia.

    @Jan said:
    We need to pray for a strong Church in Japan. Revival must start from within the local Church.

    I agree with you

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    @Mitchell said:

    The Christian Post: Why So Few Christians in Japan?

    "Because they are afraid of disturbing human relationships of their families or neighborhood... "Thus, Japanese make much of human relationships more than the truth. Consequently we can say that as for Japanese, one of the most important things is harmony; in Japanese 'Wa.'"

    He added, "[T]hose who harm the harmony are bad, whether they are right or not has been beside the question."

    Thanks, Mitchell, for this, peek into Japanese culture. This is a matter that demands, not only prayer but "Critical Contextualization." See my February 21st post and discussions on this topic Easter: Biblical or "Baptized Paganism" thread.

    1. Many times western missionaries promote and require more of its culture than Christ. e.g. hymns, dress, the order of service, etc. Christianity is not all or none religion. e.g. apostle Paul maintained some Jewish practices after embracing Christ.
    2. Also, one must be aware of a nation's history in general, and Japan in particular. For the many people that died and cities destroyed, one should expect a healthy skepticism of anything that appears western in nature.
    3. One must review who and how Christianity was presented. Were the Japanese ever introduced to Christ, properly, in His fullness and practical living?
    4. For missionaries or sending organizations, they need the Japanese culture (surface and deep) to be more effective. Understand their worldview. Christianity is about Christ and Christ is about relationships.
    5. There needs to be a biblical review of The Man (Jesus Christ), The Message, Mission (restoration and reconciliation of man to God). People don't like change. They will embrace change for fear, profit, or popularity, in general. As for Christianity, change happens over time when the purpose, benefits, and methods are understood along with cultural inclusion.
    6. In short, Christianity is multi-sensory. It must be seen, heard, experienced and practiced. One must know the Master and become a disciple. When it's all said and done, Disciples make disciples. Japanese Christians make Japanese Christians. CM
  • JanJan Posts: 280

    @Mitchell said:

    @Jan said:
    In Cambodia I noticed they're forming their own small communities. They do the same in Germany.

    I would love to hear more about these communities! In the United States it seems that the Japanese no longer build physical Japanese communities or Japantowns (日本町 ) the way Chinese and Koreans do. There is a little Tokyo in L.A. and three more official Japantowns in the states. In terms of social Japanese expat communities and societies there more.

    Oh, they don't form physical communities in Cambodia or Germany either. They come to both countries to conduct business, not for permanent immigration.

    In Germany, almost all Japanese expats literally concentrate in one single city:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_community_of_Düsseldorf

    With 1.8% of Dusseldorf's population being Japanese citizens, as far as I know, that's the largest percentage of any city ouside Japan.

    In Cambodia, my experience was that Japanese rarely mingled with other expats. Just judging by the number of Japanese owned businesses in Phnom Penh (from small restaurants to the major shopping malls), there must be thousands of Japanese expats in the city. I'm not saying none of them mingle with other expats, but as a rule of thumb, they usually don't. And it's not an "Asian thing". Other Asians (Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Vietnamese, Singaporeans, Philipinos, Indonesians, Malaysians etc.) were a lot more open to build relationships.

    @Jan said:
    They're reluctant to learn the language of their host countries.

    In the States and Canada the children of expats attend public schools and if they live in a city with a large Japanese population they might attend a weekend Japanese supplementary school. A few cities have a Monday to Friday Japanese primary and high school.

    The Japanese community in Phnom Penh run their own Japanese school based on the Japanese system (which doesn't really mean anything, since the Cambodian public school system is very poor, and most expat communities have their own school in Phnom Penh).

    Here's some background information that I found:
    https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/31/national/first-school-dedicated-japanese-residents-opens-cambodia/

    There's also a Japanese school in Dusseldorf:
    http://www.jisd.de/about_jisd/english/outline_english.html

    @Jan said:
    In Japan, where everything already is maximally Japanese, I can understand how Japanese people might not be interested in giving parts of that up (which in their view becoming a Christian undoubtedly would mean).

    Many I meet tend to think that Christianity is a western religion, or that all western are by default Christian. Many have no idea that Jesus was born in Asia.

    Interesting thought. Maybe a simple history lesson culd clear up a lot of misunderstandings.

    From my experience, Christmas is a universal festival throughout Asia, but many really have no idea what it really is about (just that is has something to do with Mary, because of the greeting "Mary Christmas"...)
    For our Buddhist staff, we used to have a small Gospel presentation almost every year for Christmas, just to tell the story, and to get the basic message across.

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    @C_M_ said:

    @Mitchell said:

    The Christian Post: Why So Few Christians in Japan?

    "Because they are afraid of disturbing human relationships of their families or neighborhood... "Thus, Japanese make much of human relationships more than the truth. Consequently we can say that as for Japanese, one of the most important things is harmony; in Japanese 'Wa.'"

    He added, "[T]hose who harm the harmony are bad, whether they are right or not has been beside the question."

    Thanks, Mitchell, for this, peek into Japanese culture. This is a matter that demands, not only prayer but "Critical Contextualization." See my February 21st post and discussions on this topic Easter: Biblical or "Baptized Paganism" thread.

    1. Many times western missionaries promote and require more of its culture than Christ. e.g. hymns, dress, the order of service, etc. Christianity is not all or none religion. e.g. apostle Paul maintained some Jewish practices after embracing Christ.
    2. Also, one must be aware of a nation's history in general, and [THE JAPANESE] in particular. For the many people that died and cities destroyed, one should expect a healthy skepticism of anything that appears western in nature. [NOT CHRIST, BUT MISSIONARIES FROM THE WEST]
    3. One must review who and how Christianity was presented. Were the Japanese ever introduced to Christ, properly, in His fullness and practical living?
    4. For missionaries or sending organizations, they need [UNDERSTAND] the Japanese culture ("surface" and "deep") to be more effective. Understand their worldview. Christianity is about Christ and Christ is about relationships.
    5. There needs to be a biblical review of The Man (Jesus Christ), The Message **[SAVIOR, SALVATION & ETERNAL LIFE], and the **Mission (restoration and reconciliation of man to God). People don't like change. They will embrace change for fear, profit, or popularity, in general. As for Christianity, change happens over time when the purpose, benefits, and methods are understood along with cultural inclusion.
    6. In short, Christianity is multi-sensory. It must be seen, heard, experienced and practiced. One must know the Master and become a disciple. When it's all said and done, Disciples make disciples. Japanese Christians make Japanese Christians. CM
  • GaoLuGaoLu Posts: 1,367

    @Mitchell said:

    @GaoLu said:

    GaoLu, thank you for sharing! I would love to hear about you Mentor's experiences in Japan.

    Did you get my PM?

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    Mitchell,
    To answer the OP, history will give some insights, in addition to what I said above. It all began in 1548 when Yajiro fled Japan via a Portuguese vessel bound for India. Yajiro (a newly baptized Japanese convert) who later accompany Francis Xavier Jesuits in Kagoshima, Japan.

    Before doing so, Francis Xavier introduced Yajiro to Christianity and the two became friends. In the process of their discussions, Xavier asked Yajiro, “If I went to Japan, would the people become Christian?” To this question Yajiro responded:

    "My people would not immediately become Christians; but they would first ask you a multitude of questions, weighing carefully your answers and your claims. Above all, they would observe whether your conduct agreed with your words. If you should satisfy them on these points–by suitable replies to their inquiries and by a life above reproach–then, as soon as the matter was known and fully examined, the king (daimyo), the nobles, and the educated people would become Christians. Six months would suffice; for the nation is one that always follows the guidance of reason" (Francis, C. B., & Nakajima, J. M. (1991). Christians in Japan. New York, NY: Friendship., p. 8).

    I hope this helps. Happy labor with the people of Japan. CM

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    Mitchell,
    Is it still this way, today? CM

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    Thanks, Jan for the resource. CM

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    Mitchell,
    Here is a source that may add light to your inquiry:

    -- Francis, C. B., & Nakajima, J. M. (1991). Christians in Japan. New York, NY: Friendship.

    Until next time, Be blessed. CM

  • MitchellMitchell Posts: 585

    @Jan said:
    In Germany, almost all Japanese expats literally concentrate in one single city:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_community_of_Düsseldorf
    With 1.8% of Dusseldorf's population being Japanese citizens, as far as I know, that's the largest percentage of any city ouside Japan.

    Wow, that is very interesting! I wonder why that is?

    @Jan said:
    There's also a Japanese school in Dusseldorf:

    It is a pretty interesting school it seem to have at least two distict tracks/programs

    Track one
    The 日本語補習校 (Nihongo hoshūkō) Or Japanese supplementary School. According to the Japanese version of the website it operates 37 Saturdays of the year from 2:00pm to 5:25pm. [(link)] (http://www.jisd.de/hosyuko/shokai.html "(link)") and [(Link2)](http://www.jisd.de/hosyuko/download/hennyu.pdf "(Link2)" This program would allow of Japanese Students to attend German public/private schools durning the weekdays and keep up with Japanese studies on the Weekends.

    Track two
    Japanische Internationale Schule in Dusseldorf (デュッセルドルフ日本人学校 (Dusselforf Nihonjin Gako) = Dusselforf Japanese (person) school. Interestly a word meaning 'international' does not appear in the Japanese title. This school track seem to be comperhensive and opperates throughout the week.

    In Cambodia, my experience was that Japanese rarely mingled with other expats.

    Thanks for sharing your observations. So, do you mean to say that the Japanese in Cambodia mingle with natives of Cambodia they are residing in, but not with other expats?

  • C McC Mc Posts: 3,625

    Mitch,
    Have you observed or have knowledge of American influence and Christianity there? CM

  • JanJan Posts: 280

    I was just browsing through FL e-books, and found another interesting book on the topic:
    https://ebooks.faithlife.com/products/65397/silence-and-beauty

    (Again, very costly... I'm personally waiting for a sale...)

  • MitchellMitchell Posts: 585

    @C_M_ said:
    Mitch,
    Have you observed or have knowledge of American influence and Christianity there? CM

    ONE: Sorry, I did not see this post till now.
    TWO: Yes, I have seen some American and/or western influence in Japan as well as a lot more influence in most forms of Christianity here. American influence in Japan basically starts during the post-war time. A book with good background on this is John W. Dowers, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the wake of World War 2 (link)

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