Officially gNipponh (in full: Nippon Koku -- Nippon country)
Typically called gNihonh - (origin of the sun, gLand of the Rising Sunh)
Centuries ago it was gJi-ponh (where we get gJapanh) from Marco Polofs gCipangu, Jipangu, or Jipanh
Density: 870 people per square mile
Compare with USA at 75 people /sq. mi.
- other 1%:
- Korean: 511,262
- Chinese: 244,241
- Brazilian: 182,232
- Filipino: 89,851
- other: 237,914
- nearly 80% live in cities
Total area slightly smaller than California.
Imagine half the population of the United States, all living in the state of California.
Only 3% of the land can be built upon (the entire country is mountainous islands), so actual density is far greater.
- California population: 35.4 million
- Japan population: 127 million
- U.S. population: 293 million
In and around the capital city of Tokyo, live about 30 million people.
- Tokyo population density is nearly double that of the New York City metro area (16 million ppl)
Government: constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary government
Suffrage (Voting): 20 years of age; universal
Four main islands and many smaller ones (over 3000 islands of which 600 are inhabited): east of China, Korea and Russia.
Mostly rugged and mountainous volcanic islands, with 18,486 miles of coastline.
- There are 40 active volcanoes and many inactive.
- There are 2800 hot springs.
Earthquakes are frequent throughout Japan. Around 1,500 seismic occurrences
Tsunamis: tidal waves caused by seismic movement
Due to the large North/South extension of the country, the climate varies strongly in different regions; from tropical in the south to cool temperate in north.
There are short summers and severe long winters in the north, and hot,
humid summers and mild winters in Tokyo and further south.
From August to October typhoons occur which can cause great damage.
• Buddhist/Shinto/New religions & sects: 84%
• Non-religious: 15%
• Christian: 0.7%, of whom only 0.32% are Evangelicals
Most Japanese people follow a combination of religions.
Generally Japanese only attend Buddhist temples for funerals, Shinto Shrines
for baby and childrenfs blessings, and for weddings, but otherwise in their
day-to-day life they have little to do with these religions. Many
families have Buddhist family altars and/or Shinto god shelves at which they
make offerings and pray for the spirits of their ancestors. Previously
marriages were generally performed in the Shinto tradition, but in recent
years as many as 60% of these are Western, Christian-type ceremonies held in specially
built wedding chapels in large hotels.
In the latter half of the 19th century Shinto was made a state religion,
stressing worship of the emperor as a divinity and the racial superiority
of the Japanese. After World War II Shinto ceased to be the state religion,
but there is currently a resurgence of a nationalistic Shinto which is hostile to anything un-Japanese.
Many "Christian" denominations and sects.
Also: Muslim, Jehovah's Witness, Taoist, New Age.
Generally speaking, Japanese tend to focus more
on ritual and tradition than on doctrine, truth or a "changed
heart". The latest results of a poll conducted by a Japanese monthly opinion
magazine imply that only one out of four Japanese effectively believes in
any particular religion. This lack of faith is even more pronounced for Japanese
youth in their 20's with an alarming rate of atheism as high as 85%.
Christianity has yet to make any appreciable impact on rural communities;
it draws it's strength from the urban, professional classes. Numerous country areas are scarcely touched by the gospel.
There are no legal restrictions to witnessing or preaching the gospel.
The general population has remained absorbed
in materialistic attitudes and confident in their own religions. A breakthrough
has yet to come. Spiritually, Japan remains unresponsive to the
Societyfs grip on the people is very strong. Cultural
pressures to conform and the intense work ethos squeeze out Christianity,
particularly for Japanese men. The drive for success and demands of employers
make it hard for men to break free. Few families come to faith in Christ;
individuals feel exposed.
About 70 per cent of all churches have an average attendance of less than
30 (mostly women). "Large"
churches of up to 100 members may be found only in large cities. gGianth
churches of 200-300 or more are very rare. Many towns and cities have no church
at all. Many people work on Sundays, so church gattendanceh does not match
their gmembershiph role. It is said that 90% of Japanese converts to Christianity
Approximately 100 Seminaries and/or Bible Schools in Japan (very wide range of beliefs).
Most U.S. denominations claim to have a missions work in Japan.
Christian workers "in training" are at an all-time low and many post-war pastors are retiring with no one to replace them.
See more under "History of Christianity in Japan" below.
99% (99% over 15 years of age can read and write)
Nihon-gō = Japan-language (Japanese)
Japanese is used throughout the country. Learning Japanese means tackling
three scripts, about 5,000 ekanjif Chinese characters, ehiraganaf which gives
the grammatical meaning to sentences and ekatakanaf which is used for borrowed
words and foreign names. The Japanese language has different
levels depending on whether you are speaking to a respected superior, an
employee, a child or a friend. So learning Japanese takes time.
[ Romaji = Japanese transcribed to Roman letters, our alphabet ] konnichi wa
[ Kanji = traditional Japanese/Chinese symbols (2,000 commonly used) ]
[ Katakana = another symbol system, used for foreign names & words ]
[ Hiragana = another symbol system used for Japanese based words ]
Among world's largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles,
electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships,
chemicals, textiles, processed foods
Agriculture represents only 1.3% of Japanfs GDP (gross domestic product)
- Agricultural Products: rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit, pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs, fish
- Imports: machinery and equipment, fuels, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, raw materials
- Exports: motor vehicles, semiconductors, office equipment, chemicals
total: 721,967 miles
paved: 332,104 miles
unpaved: (1999) 389,862 mile
- total: 174
- paved runways: 143
Japan's four major islands, Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku are
covered by an extensive and reliable network of railways (14,729 miles total). Trains are a very convenient means of transportation.
Japan's main island, Honshu, is covered by a network of
high speed train lines that connect Tokyo with most of the island's major
cities and Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu. Japan's high speed trains (bullet
trains) are called "shinkansen" and are operated by the JR (Japan Railways).
Driving Rules and Costs:
In Japan, cars drive on the left side of the road and have their steering
wheels on the right side. The legal minimum age for driving is 18 years.
Road signs and rules follow international standards, and most signs on major
roads and highways are bilingual (Japanese and English).
New and used cars are relatively inexpensive in the home country of Toyota,
Honda and Nissan, but owning and operating a car costs much money due to
mandatory bi-annual inspections, mandatory insurance, an automobile tax, high parking
costs in cities, and expensive toll highways. A liter of gasoline costs roughly
120 Yen (about $4.55 USD per gallon).
Cost of Living:
Living costs in Japan and especially in Tokyo are famous to be among the world's highest.
- Food: A meal at an average restaurant costs roughly between 1,000 and 3,000 Yen. ($10-$30)
- Milk can cost up to $7.00 per gallon
- McDonald's Big Mac & fries - $6.00
- 12oz. can of pop - $1.20
- Domino's Pizza - $30.00
Housing: Some of the world's most expensive
land can be found in central Tokyo. An average new house could cost $450,000.
Rent a single room with a sink (no toilet or bath) for about $350.
Take a bath at a local public bath for $7.00 per use. Rent a house
with American-sized electrical appliances for up to $10,000
to $25,000 per month. Rare to find more than one toilet or bath, since all
family members share the same tub of water to bathe.
- Transportation: Owning a car in Japan is
expensive due to the mandatory bi-annual inspections, mandatory insurance,
an automobile tax and high fees for a parking space (in large cities).
The use of highways is subject to tolls.
The cars themselves, however, are relatively inexpensive, with smaller new
cars starting at under one million yen. A liter of gasoline costs around
120 Yen. ( about $4.55 per gallon)
Commuter passes for unlimited train travel for a given time period can cost
$500-$600. A large variety of other discount offers is available for train
travel in Japan.
- Telephone: Pay for all local calls
According to Japanese myth, their first Emperor, Jimmo, founded their country in 660 B.C.
Japan does not appear in written history until 57 A.D. when it is first mentioned in
Chinese histories, where it is referred to as "Wa". The Chinese historians
tell of a land divided into a hundred or so separate tribal communities
without writing or political cohesion. The Japanese did not start writing
their histories until around 600 A.D.; this historical writing culminates in
700 A.D. in the massive chronicles, The Record of Ancient Matters and the Chronicles
Around the 6th century A.D., one of the Japanese Emperors
sent a contingent to China to study their culture, language, writing, foods
and customs. Japan thus borrowed the Chinese "Kanji" and developed their
first written language, and the Chinese and Korean influences on their own
culture is still very evident today.
From the late 1800's to the end of World War II, Japan sought expansion, initially
into Korea, China and Taiwan, and then throughout most of Southeast Asia.
Occupied by the United Nations (chiefly the U.S.) after the war, the country
inherited many Western qualities. It experienced astonishing economic growth
and leads the world in many industries, especially hi-tech and manufacturing.
Japan is now the second most technologically powerful economy in the world.
After decades of rapid economic expansion, growth ground to a halt during
the 1990s, and many Japanese are becoming disillusioned with the hopelessness
and emptiness of their materialistic lifestyles.
History of Christianity in Japan:
Christianity was introduced into Japan in three primary time periods: 16th century
with Spanish missionaries, in the 19th century with the Meiji Restoration, and again in the 20th century after World War II.
missionaries in Japan were Roman Catholics from Spain, led by a Jesuit named Francis Xavier in 1549. The Christian tradition
required exclusive dedication which clashed with the traditions of Japanese
religions. Even today, many Japanese people view
Buddhism as a household obligation and Shintoism as a communal obligation,
and they incorporate both into their lives through various festivals and ancestor
In 1564, missionaries were expelled and then allowed
to return in 1569. In 1587, missionaries were ordered
to leave Japan and the 1614 Expulsion Edict brought
about strict enforcement. In the mid 1600's, the Japanese Shogunate (shoguns were Japanfs military dictators) began
to view the Western religion as an intrusive foreign element and a threat
to national stability, possibly to soften
them up for European conquest, and they demanded
the expulsion of all European missionaries and the execution of all converts. As many as 300,000 Japanese
Christians were persecuted and many were martyred. The country was
then closed to all foreigners for 250 years. For two centuries, the "hidden Christians" continued
to secretly practice their faith.
In 1853, Commodore Perry convinced the Japanese to reopen their doors to
the West, and in 1859 Roman Catholic missionaries returned and along with
them, the first Protestant missionaries.
The second wave of Christianity in Japan was during the Meiji Restoration
that began in 1868.
Because Western missionaries initially hoped to avoid denominational labels,
the first Protestant church established was non-denominational. The Church
of Christ of Japan was established in 1872, and
such church labels began to emerge when the
law outlawing Christianity was abolished.
The Meiji Constitution of the mid-1800's guaranteed religious freedom,
but by the 1930's the government became more "totalitarian". As a tool of
unification and modernization, Shinto beliefs and practices were labeled
as patriotic, and the government came to require participation regardless
of religious affiliation. Shintoism became a symbol of nationality and those
who did not comply with the governmental requirements faced persecution.
Japanese churches became increasingly controlled by government demands --
a conflict between sacred and secular existence.
While missionary instruction dominated some groups, lay educators also flourished.
One teacher, named Captain Leroy Lansing Janes, taught the Bible without
political slants and "theological confessions" inherent in clergy instruction.
This historic influence remains apparent in "indigenous Christian movements"
in Japan. Their "experiential orientation" varies greatly from the theologically
orientated mission churches.
In the 1880's: Protestant boys' schools, girls'
schools, co-educational schools, and theological seminaries.
Roman Catholic and
Russian Orthodox churches grew.
Some non-Christian Japanese leaders considered
making Christianity the state religion of Japan as
an effective strategy for making Japan a recognized member of the international
community as quickly as possible.
1930 marked the beginning of an industrial revolution in Japan. Growth was remarkable between 1901 and 1930, as the Protestant
church grew in membership nearly four times its size. The Roman Catholic
Church's numbers appear to have nearly doubled in those three decades. White-collar class urbanites were most receptive
to Christian efforts during this period.
In 1939, the Diet (dē-ĕt - governing body of Japan) passed the Religious Organizations
Law in which they reserved the right to disband religious groups whose teachings
conflicted with the "Imperial Way". In 1941, a Peace Preservation
Law was passed to control socialism and communist movements, and the revised
version included "dangerous ideas", including any thought process that strayed
from the dominant polity of that time which painted Japan as the divine nation
with entitlement to absolute rule by way of Manifest Destiny. Many churches
"adjusted" to survive within the nationalistic society. The Roman Catholic
Church and most Protestant churches requested that their members comply with
civil rituals. Theological accomodations or "indigenous theologies" of that
time considered Japan as the designated kingdom of God and Japanese people
the chosen people to establish a kingdom of peace in Asia.
The Kyodan, which consisted of thirty-four denominations, worked to accomodate
the national circumstances. In 1941, this "government
directed union" complied with most of the government's demands, however, the government
remained skeptical of Christian philosophies. For example, even though God
is the creator over all, he could not have created the emperor, who was a
divine being himself.
One development during this period was the emergence of Tokko,
of the Japanese Special Higher Police. Their goal was to identify deviant
beliefs and control them. Their initial targets
until the 1930's were socialist and communist organizations. Once that situation
was under control, they began to scrutinize Christians (attended lectures,
services, prayer groups). The Christian
focus on world renewal came to be viewed as a threat of revolution. The first
religious group to be investigated was Jehovah's Witness, in January 1939. In June 1939 arrests started and by 1941, fifty-three
Jehovah's Witnesses were charged with violations.
Perhaps the most "dangerous" element of the Christian belief system
was the idea that God's kingdom would inevitably overturn present rule of
the Emperor. Difficult questions were hurled at clergy members. For example,
was the Emperor a sinner, too? If there is only one God, is the Emperor not
also divine? Should the Emperor also become the servant of God?
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries,
Japan became a regional power that was able to defeat the forces of both
China and Russia. It occupied Korea, Formosa (Taiwan), and southern Sakhalin
Island. In 1933 Japan occupied Manchuria and in 1937 it launched a full-scale
invasion of China.
Viewing themselves as the superior race and destined
to rule, they believed that their gods and their ancestors would guide them
to certain victory. They believed that the Chinese were an inferior
race and not worthy to have such a great expanse of land and natural resources.
Their actions during this so-called expansion were "unspeakable".
Japan attacked U.S. forces at Pearl Harbor in 1941, triggering America's
entry into World War II, and soon they occupied much of East and Southeast Asia.
being so soundly defeated by the Americans and their "christian" allies,
the Japanese people were totally humiliated before the world. Their gods
and their ancestors had failed them and they were extremely susceptible to
new ideologies at that point. General MacArthur sent word back to the United
States saying, "send me 1,000 missionaries and I will give you Japan". To
his amazement (and our shame), two months later, one missionary and a couple
of assistants arrived.
God had opened wide
the door for the gospel in Japan and had plowed up the soil of their hearts.
Had the Church been quick to respond, gone over there and preached the simple
gospel, Japan's history over the past 60 years might have been a completely
different story. The Japanese people very soon gravitated back to "the
old familiar" and today are hardened in their unbelief.
We, as Christians,
need to be sensitive to the workings of God and the importance of His timing.
When He opens a door and prepares someone's heart, we need to be ready and
willing to step through that door and boldly proclaim the Gospel of God,
as delivered to us by Christ and His Apostles and recorded for us in the
holy scriptures. That door may be in another country or maybe even our next-door
All religious prisoners were pardoned by General MacArthur
and the Occupation government on November 13, 1945. The Peace Preservation
Law was also lifted.
The Post-war Period marked a great many changes throughout
Japanese religious and governmental institutions, and marked the beginning
of the third wave of Christian influence. Following the August 15, 1945 surrender
and subsequent arrival of the Occupation Forces, in December 1945, the Supreme
Commander of the Allied Forces called for the Disestablishment of the State Shinto religion.
Participation in this pagan religion became voluntary, and the organization
was stripped of all legal authority and government funding. The post-war Constitution
of Japan (1947) provided religious freedom and prohibited state establishment
of a religion or government interference with the church.
During the early Post-war years, Christian churches gained a considerable
following particularly among the educated middle class. Pre-war denominations were re-established. General MacArthur called for
"missionary reinforcements" in church recovery efforts and the rebuilding
of Japan. Numerous new evangelical churches from Europe and North America
After its defeat in World War II, Japan recovered to become an economic power
and a staunch ally of the United States. While the emperor retains his throne as a symbol
of national unity, actual power rests in networks of powerful politicians,
bureaucrats, and business executives. The economy experienced a major slowdown,
starting in the 1990's following three decades of unprecedented growth, but
Japan still remains a major economic power, both in Asia and globally. In
2005, Japan began a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security
The number of "Church" followers has remained fairly
constant in recent years. Christian influences are significant today in Japan
and have affected the education and social welfare. Despite obvious influence,
mission churches have not found a receptive audience in Japan. Christianity is still regarded as a "foreign" creed, preaching admirable
ideals but unsuitable for ordinary Japanese people. Because of it's "foreign" nature,
the religion has been persecuted when demands for national unity were strong;
it has been widely accepted during periods of social unrest but once the social equilibrium
was restored, interest rapidly waned.
Christian organizations in Japan fall into two
categories: non-indigenous and indigenous . Specific beliefs and practices
among these establishments vary greatly, more so among the indigenous sects.
- indigenous: originating from within, self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating
- non-indigenous: imported beliefs & practices, denominational ties
Some non-indigenous groups include Anglican, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox, Lutheran, Baptist, and the United
Church of Christ (Methodist, Reformed, Presbyterian, Congregational).
The term gChristianityh or gthe Christian Religionh is used here in contrast to gthe Gospelh, because there IS a difference.
There is a difference between greligionh and a grelationship with Jesus Christh.
There is a difference between preaching gthe gospelh and preaching gchurchh.
There is a difference between making gdisciplesh and making gconvertsh.
There is a difference between gteach them to do all that I have commandedh and gteach them to know your churchfs traditionsh.
Preaching church, religion or traditions of men will
not produce a new heart, necessary for a changed life. Only through
repentance, giving onefs life to Christ, receiving His Holy Spirit and being
born again as a new person, will one be able to live the Christian life.
It is an exchange; gmy life for Hish. Only those who gknow Himh will
have the grace to "live for Him".
Grace = God working in you both the desire and the power to do His will.
Philippians 2:13 gFor it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.h