Historically, people say Christianity came to Japan in 1549, when Francis Xavier brought Catholicism to the island. However, Japanese authorities believe that he was tied with acts of Espionage and soon banned Catholic monks from the island. It would be over 200 years before Japan was reopened to trade and the gospel. It wouldn’t be until the 1850’s when Commodore Matthew Perry worked on behalf of the United States to reopen the Japanese ports to foreign trade.
While Japan was closed off to the gospel during World War II, the doors were reopened upon surrender. Since the end of the war, Japan has enjoyed religious freedom. However, along with this this religious freedom comes a passive stance toward religion.
Most Japanese people are only nominally religious. The two major religions Buddhism and Shinto are intricately woven throughout Japanese culture. For example, the Shinto religion worships nature and many different spirits. And the Japanese use the Shinto religion primarily for things relating to the Here and Now such as dedicating a baby to the gods, or performing a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony. On the other hand, Buddhism is often used for things pertaining to the afterlife, such as a funeral. However, neither of these religions provide hope or peace to the people.
Japanese history often ends in people’s minds when the two bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but these two cities still exist and have many people. Nagasaki has a population of about 400,000 and Hiroshima has a population of about 1.2 million. Additionally, Japan’s capital city Tokyo, along with its suburbs, boasts a population of 38 million people, yet only 1.5% of the country is “Christian” and 0.5% would be considered part of evangelical Christianity.
Today, people can legally come to Japan as missionaries and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are no legal ramifications for preaching gospel. The door is wide open. False religions and false gospels such as the Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses have already infiltrated Japan. Their workers can be seen on the streets and going toward the door. They win Converse, and snare people and convert people from One snare to the next as they preach a false gospel.
However this does not mean opposition is nonexistent. The traditions of Japanese religion run deep, especially in families and customs. To trust and follow Christ means that the believer must reject forms of ancestor worship and part of their family heritage. To follow Jesus is means to turn from Spirits and idols. To follow Jesus means that the believer admits his ancestors who died before him without Christ are in Hell.
However, there is hope. Currently, Will and Rebelle Hill are in Niigata, Japan planting their first church. They are there as church planting missionaries and have been given a religious visa by the government. They do not need to go in undercover or have a business on the side to spread the gospel.
Since Japan plays a major role in the global community, and a Japanese passport can get you into more countries than an American passport. Starting churches and sending missionaries from Japan would be a strategic way to reach nations where people from the United States cannot go.
Will you prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you do to help reach Japan with the gospel. Perhaps the Lord would have you take a mission trip to Japan. Or maybe the Lord is calling you to go to Japan as a missionary. There is no excuse: Japan needs the gospel.
What will you do to reach Japan?