Thursday 22nd February 2024,
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Christian Proselytism’s Defeat In Japan

Christian Proselytism’s Defeat In Japan

Although far from uniform, the composite picture of Christianity that emerges in a number of Japanese sources from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries is of a Buddhist heresy propagated by barbarians and focused around the worship of a demonic deity.28 This sect encourages loyalty to a barbarian king said to be the representative of this monstrous god on earth. It expands its empire by subverting the inhabitants of a region through a combination of bribery and deception or black magic. It takes advantage of and encourages civil wars. Peasants, the poor, and the uneducated are particularly susceptible to its teachings. Eventually-as was believed to have happened in the Philippines and Java-the barbarians, aided by local traitors, annex portions of a country, corrupting the local rulers and enslaving the populace. The Christian followers then destroy the images and temples of the true gods and buddhas while purging local customs. This leads to the destabilization of the existing social order and the emplacement of a new order modeled on Christian civilization.

– The Invention of Religion in Japan By Jason Ananda Josephson, pg. 50

The above is a gist of the Japanese analysis of Christianity having felt its presence deeply in their country.

The following should give a sample of what Christians were doing in Japan (as they always do among heathens):

As Omura Sumitada had gone off to the wars, it so happened that he passed on the way an idol, Marishiten by name, which is their god of battles. When they pass it, they bow and pay reverence to it, and the pagans who are on horseback dismount as a sign of their respect. Now the idol had above it a cockerel. As the daimyo came there with his squadron he had his men stop and ordered them to take the idol and burn it together with the whole temple; and he took the cockerel and gave it a blow with the sword, saying to it, “Oh, how many times have you betrayed me!” And after everything had been burnt down, he had a very beautiful cross erected on the same spot, and after he and his men had paid very deep reverence to it, they continued on their way to the wars.

Luís Fróis (1532 – July 8, 1597), a Portuguese Christian missionary giving an eyewitness description of non Christian shrines being destroyed by Japanese converts.

Very few people are aware of this story & think Japan was isolated till Commodore Perry threatened it with guns. In fact it was eager for trade with Europe in the 16th and early 17th centuries before the poison of Christianity seeped into their society and began destroying it. Fortunately the Japanese unlike the Hindus were endowed with rulers who possessed great foresight who decided to extirpate Christianity by any means necessary to save Japan & that included closing off Japan to the West for the next 250 years.

The following is taken from a book describing this story & is given here for what it’s worth with the hope that our foolish Hindu compatriots may learn something about the nature of the Abrahamic beast & the means required to slay it. We would also like to express our admiration for the Japanese people for they are the only heathen people in history known to have almost entirely extirpated an Abrahamic cult from their lands after it made deep inroads.

Ieyasu was ready to trigger a full persecution of the Kirishitan, and his opportunity came in February of 1612, when a court intrigue involving the Kirishitan Okamoto Paulo Daihachi (d. 1612) and the Kirishitan lord Arima Harunobu (1561-1612) was disclosed. Since both were Kirishitan, Ieyasu’s aversion to the Kirishitan faith became greater than ever. On 17 March of that same year, he announced the expulsion of his fourteen Kirishitan vassals, and four days later he issued an order to prohibit the Kirishitan faith of anyone in the shogun’s domains of Sunpu, Edo, Kyoto, and Nagasaki. The bakufu’s persecution in these areas was still limited, however. In Kyoto, only a Jesuit residence and a Franciscan monastery were demolished because they had been constructed without Ieyasu’s permissionFive months later, on 6 August, the prohibition of the Kirishitan faith was stated as one five state prohibitions announced across the country.29 This was the first declared prohibition of the faith as an official law of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Eighteen months later the Tokugawa bakufu further strengthened its anti-Kirishitan policy by announcing the expulsion of all missionaries from Japan. The “State on the expulsion of the bateren,” drafted by the Zen monk Konchiin Suden (1563-1633), was issued in 1614 under the name of the second shogun Hidetada. Strictly speaking, this statement was the re-pronouncement, re-definition, and re-enforcement of what had been legalized since 1587. But it was the Tokugawa bakufu’s first official statement of a comprehensive control of Kirishitan, which was to be fully implemented and canonized as one of the fundamental Tokugawa laws.

The statement proclaims that Japan is the land of kami and the land of buddhas, ruled on the political principles of Confucianism. And it contends,

The Kirishitan band happened to reach Japan. Not only have they sent merchant vessels to exchange commodities, but they also spread a pernicious doctrine to confuse the right ones, so that they would change the government of the country and own the country. This will become a great catastrophe. We cannot but stop it.

It further claims that the Kirishitan were bringing disorder to Japanese society and that the followers of padres (bateren monto) “contravene government regulations, traduce Shinto, calumniate the True Law, destroy righteousness, and corrupt goodness.”30

The Kirishitan history finally entered the general persecution period both in name and practice. Thereafter, the Tokugawa shogunate strictly applied its anti-Kirishitan policy to the members of all social strata, including the commoners, who had been exempted from previous persecution. Ieyasu, who as the retired shogun had maintained the highest authority, died in April of 1616. In August of that same year the bakufu issued a directive to prohibit the Kirishitan faith, demonstrating that Ieyasu’s anti-Kirishitan law had been renewed under the new authority of Shogun Hidetada:

On the matter of the adherents of the bateren, because the absolute prohibition of their faith was notified by Sokoku sama (Ieyasu), understand its intent, and put great care that there are no adherents of the sect even among peasants.31

The law prohibiting the Kirishitan faith was no longer limited to the reign of a single shogun, but a canon to be observed throughout the Tokugawa’s rule. During the reigns of the second shogun Hidetada (r. 1605-1623), and the third shogun Iemitsu (r. 1623-1651), policy was gradually systematized to eradicate the Kirishitan. The suppression of the missionaries and followers began with moderate acts such as expelling the missionaries abroad, or sending followers to remote places like criminals, but it generally intensified and became more brutal.

The great martyrdoms in Kyoto (1619), Nagasaki (1622), and Edo (1623) demonstrated in the most intense fashion the bakufu’s serious commitment to its policy of exterminating the Kirishitan faith in Japan, and this persecution was only the beginning. In Kyoto, fifty-two Kirishitan, mostly residents of the Kirishitan town named Daiisu (Deus), were slaughtered at Rokujo Gawara along the Kamo River. All the martyrs were lay followers, including six children.32 In Nagasaki, a total of fifty-five irmaos and followers were killed at the Nishizaka hill. Twenty-four who were burned were missionaries and lay readers, including two Jesuit padres, eight Jesuit irmaos, two Dominican irmaos, two lay members of the Fraternity of the Rosary, and three catechists. The remaining lay Kirishitan were beheaded

Ship owners (funanushi) who helped missionaries secretly enter or return to the country were also hunted, and the authorities clearly intended to uproot all means that enabled the missionaries to survive in Japan. Meanwhile, in 1622, the residents of Kyoto were notified that the padres’ followers (bateren monto) would be punished with death. And the order further said, “Since this law is strictly applied, if you find followers in town, report to us immediately and receive rewards for it. If you hide [a follower] and it is reported by someone else, you will be charged of the same penalty [as the follower].”42

All Kirishitan had to deal with the bakufu’s systematized methods of, first, detecting them, second, forcing them to apostatize, and finally, monitoring the apostates. All households were arranged into groups of five, each group bearing collective responsibility. This five-household association (goningumi) was a system of corporate responsibility and enforcement of regulations in town and country. It was institutionalized in the early Tokugawa years to find ordinary criminals, warriors loyal to the Osaka force, and Kirishitan. Later, however, its main purpose became to find Kirishitan. The bakufu took advantage of the system to make each household responsible for ensuring that there were no Kirishitan in its goningumi. In Nagasaki this system was first instituted in 1622 to find lodge masters.

In 1619, again in Nagasaki, a bounty of thirty silver pieces was announced for information leading to the arrest of a padre. This method of hunting priests spread to Kyoto in 1622, to Edo in 1623, and finally across the entire country after 1633 as an effective measure for arresting missionaries. In 1622, followers of Nagasaki wrote:

After the authorities announced an excessive amount of cash reward for information about bateren and their lodges, greedy and evil-minded rogues have been searching for the monks day and night, utilizing various means. When they find a place even a little suspicious, they immediately intrude and investigate it…

The apostate Kirishitan had to further prove their sincerity by becoming a parishioner (danka) of a Buddhist temple, and temples issued guarantees that apostate Kirishitan belonged. This measure began in 1614 in Kyoto by the direction of Itakura Katsushige (1542-1624), shogunal governor (shoshidai). Later, in 1635, the bakufu strengthened this temple-parishioner system by enforcing it regarding not only apostate Kirishitan but the entire populace-every Japanese was ordered to submit a temple guarantee. The practice of religious inspection (shumon aratame), necessary for issuing the guarantee, was institutionalized, and the Buddhist temples were given the task of making an annual religious inquisition of their parishioners. Thus, Buddhist temples were incorporated into the bakufu’s anti-Kirishitan policy by taking part in the monitoring system. This system was legally abolished in 1640 with the establishment of a bakufu office of Inquisitor (shumon aratame yaku), and was uniformly adopted throughout the country…

– Christianity in Early Modern Japan: Kirishitan Belief and Practice By Ikuo Higashibaba, pg’s. 138-148

People interested in this aspect of history may explore the following Wikipedia links as a starting point:

One may also explore the life of Tokugawa Ieyasu, one of the greatest heathen heroes in history though little known outside Japan. He perhaps singlehandedly saved Nippon from following the same fate as ancient Greece, Rome, or the much battered Hindu civilization at the hands of the Abrahamics with no end in sight except what befell Greece and Rome.

The missionaries tried again of course to spread their poison in the Meiji era but after tasting the poison once, it seems the Japanese had acquired enough immunity to resist it. In contemporary Japan, Christianity is still associated with intolerance, fanaticism, and considered a morbid death cult. To quote a book about post WWII Japan:

Christianity’s intolerance of other faiths then as now, has also disturbed the Japanese who still have in their homes two altars, the Buddhist buttsudan and the Shinto saidan, which are most often tactfully set facing in different directions.

The central idea of a suffering Christ, a God who allowed himself to be publicly disgraced, then miraculously rose into heaven is inconceivable to them. I once asked a friend of mine, a Japanese Catholic with degrees from Notre Dame and Georgetown, why the Church had never succeeded in Japan. “Christ hanging on the cross bothers us,” he said, “he looks too much like a loser for a God. It was so embarrassing for Him to do that. It is embarrassing even to try explaining it. Maybe our blood is just too thin in Japan. We don’t feel comfortable with a God who sheds blood like that.”

Japan: The Fragile Superpower By Frank B Gibney, pg. 88

By Vajrin

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