Japan

Nagoya Castle
About


Japan is a beautiful country that, in many ways, exemplifies the yin and yang balance of opposite sides of a spectrum - where one can readily witness a confluence of ancient tradition and modern society, nature and technology, simplicity and complexity, omote and ura.  It is this unique balance of extremes that makes Japan a place unlike any other in the world and has both enchanted and frustrated those who have sought to understand it.  Therein lies the attraction and difficulty in sharing the precious Gospel with the Japanese people.  

Alessandro Valignano, SJ - Visitator to the East Indies
Alessandro Valignano, supervisor of the early Jesuit missions to Asia, was initially discouraged at the current state and future of the Jesuit mission to Japan in the mid-sixteenth century.  Yet after a year of traveling around the country engaging with the Japanese and, no doubt, considerable prayer, he discovered in the Japanese a beautiful potential to be great disciples of Christ and dedicated the rest of his life to developing the Christian mission there.

Today, a little over one million people - approximately 1% of the Japanese population - is Christian.  Much of the country, though possessing a cultural identity that commonly mixes Buddhism and Shinto, is essentially areligious.  Yet at the same time, Japan has the largest concentration of religious cults in the world; a fact that speaks to a deep yearning within the hearts of many Japanese to find greater meaning in their lives that isn't readily found within their society.  Thus, more than ever, it is imperative that we pray for Japan, that the light of Christ might give hope to those who are silently suffering and searching for peace and joy of heart.
"The greatest human need, if a person is to find meaning and happiness on earth, is to learn to believe in God's love for you and to let it transform your life."

Although they are a very lonely one percent, so many Japanese Christians find such deep personal fulfillment upon entering into the Christian family, they become exceptionally devoted in practicing their faith.  Indeed, some of the most inspiring stories of Christian perseverance in the midst of hardship and persecution come out of Japan.  By such strength of spirit do these Japanese Christians truly exude the appellation of warriors for Christ in their dedication and willingness to pick up their cross and follow Jesus.

Though perhaps the most challenging of all the missions, the rewards of bringing God's loving mercy to His people in Japan cannot be quantified.  Undoubtedly, in time Christian missionaries to Japan will realize, just as Valignano did 450 years ago when he wrote to the Jesuit General in Rome, that "the Japanese mission is, beyond a doubt, the greatest enterprise that there is in the world today."

Serving on Mission

Though we have yet to develop our long-term mission in Japan, we have considerable mission experience and cultural expertise on Japan to assist others who would like to undertake independent Christian ministry efforts in Japan.

If you are interested in engaging in Christian ministry in Japan, please contact us so that we can provide assistance and consultation about this important endeavor.  Thank you and God bless!

History

St. Francis Xavier was the first known missionary to bring the Gospel to Japan when he landed on the southern shores of Kagoshima in 1549.  Over the next century, through the efforts of St. Francis Xavier, his fellow Jesuits and other later missionaries, the Christian faith began to spread throughout Japan.

St. Paul Miki and his companions, martyred in Nagasaki, Japan in 1597Unfortunately, as the tide of war and politics began to change, the new reigning government of the Tokugawa shogunate found no room for the Christian faith to cause potential conflict to their new hold on power.  Thus, a persecution partially begun under Japan's previous leader went into full affect in the first few decades of the Tokugawa government.  Japanese Christians and the foreign missionaries who courageously served them were systematically hunted down by government officials, leading to countless martyrs for the faith and many more Japanese Christians secretly going underground with their precious faith.

St. Paul Miki & His Companions were crucified for their faith in Nagasaki in 1597.

Under constant threat of persecution, torture and death, the kakure Kirishitan (hidden Christians) continued to worship in secret and passed their faith down through multiple generations over nearly three centuries in hiding.  Through the grace of God and the indomitable spirit and faithfulness of the Japanese Christians, the Catholic Christian faith was able to survive.

And though the Japanese Christians of today number a mere 1% of Japan's population, they are a strong and faithful few who bear witness to an inspiring Christian past of faith and courage in the face of great odds.  

May God bless Japan.
St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!
St. Paul Miki & Companions, pray for us!
St. Lorenzo Ruiz & the Dominican Martyrs of Japan, pray for us!
Bl. Peter Kibe & Companions, pray for us!
St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!