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Japanese Christian martyrs to be beatified

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"Christian persecution?" Don't you mean persecution of Christians? Or by one, Taro Aso?

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Christianity in Japan began with the arrival of Jesuit missionary St Francis Xavier in 1549.

that would be "modern Christianity", much earlier 2nd-6th century arrival evidence exist in Japan( China too)... however Japan was not "Japan" at that time.

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“No one has the answer on how they were able to endure such great suffering, not even themselves.” <

That endurance was due to their faith. This is wonderful that Nagasaki would keep on path for breaking the phobias regarding being "different" and having a free will.

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When will the Vatican beatify all those who died under the Spanish Inquisition and witch hunts?

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Japan now has its first Catholic prime minister—Taro Aso.

Actually Aso has stated he was baptized, but that he is not a practicing Catholic.

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The first "christian" to come to Japan was Jesus who had a Japanese wife and is buried in Herai Village in Aomori. I believe that and if you don't respect me you are ignorant and unintelligent.

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Some of the methods used against the Christians were dreadful and the martyrs have my sympathy as human beings who suffered horribly, but in hindsight it was for the best that Christianity was snuffed out in Japan before it got out of hand.

If this sounds cold, you only need to look at the Roman era. Christians were persecuted, but not viciously enough, especially considering they were such a terrible menace to the public order (rioting, smashing statues of other religions, etc.) When they finally came to power with Constantine's conversion, they were hyper-intolerant of other religions and within a few decades they made the practice of pagan religions punishable by death (as dictated by the Emperor). The same could have happened in Japan.

A Shinto/Buddhist Japan is preferable to a Christian one. Luckily, Japan's leaders could foresee the threat this religion posed to Japanese civilization even if they were cruel to those who chose to follow the way.

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Proxy,

We should all respect each other. So what evidence do you offer to support your beliefs?

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I don't have to offer any evidence, all I have to do is believe but try google and you will be enlightened.

Christians hop up and down and get all upset at agnostics but they "respect" other religions. If you are a christian and you really believe it, how can you have any respect for anyone following another religion because, by default, you believe they are completely wrong and doomed to go to hell.

It is complete intellectual dishonesty.

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In the book "Shogun" Clavelle (sp?) illustrates (albeit it fictionally) the strategies with which the Catholic church spread its ideas around the globe. First the priests would come and spread the new ideas. Then when there was sufficient discord, the soldiers would come. When Tokugawa expelled all the christians, it wasn't for religious reasons, is becasue they were becoming a political threat. Had they not been expelled, traders (aboard gunships) would have come soon enough.

Take a look at south america. Any idea why many speak spanish? Any idea why almost ALL are catholic? Any idea why it is called LATIN america? first the priests, then the conquistadors. Where do you think the term "Divide and Conquor" came from?

Have a look:

http://www.mapsofwar.com/ind/history-of-religion.html

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"No one has the answer on how they were able to endure such great suffering"

It's called fanatism. The same thing the terrorists use to blow up themselves. Sad to admit but getting rid of the christians was the right choice.

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oo, this discussion is getting heated.

I didn't know that Aso was a Christian. Keeping that information out of politics is probably the best thing to do.

I've been to a few of the sites where persecution of the Jesuit followers occurred. It's pretty humbling.

Now to get back to the hot topic

Christians hop up and down and get all upset at agnostics

That's an overtly generalized statement, it may be good to go further and express that most people when they feel threatened with some of their core beliefs would get upset, Christians and agnostics included.

Moderator: Readers, please stay on topic, which is about the Christian martyrs in Japan.

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If you are a christian and you really believe it, how can you have any respect for anyone following another religion because, by default, you believe they are completely wrong and doomed to go to hell.

We respect people's right to do whatever they want with their God-given free will. We respect those people, if not their choices. Just as we should all love the sinners, but hate the sin. And yes, we respect other religions, as most have elements worthy of respect. We don't (or shouldn't) respect elements that go against what we believe. To give an example, I have very little time for the idea of stoning a woman to death for adultery, but think that Islam has some excellent teachings on how to treat people well.

Anyhow, at the end of the day, the best thing that we Christains can do is simply pray that those who are currently following a different path will end up with God either before or after they die. That, incidentally, is what most if not all of those martyrs did, as you'll read if you visit the Shrine of the 26 Martyrs in that lovely city.

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The first Christian martyr in Japan was a Mexican. Yes, most Japanese do not want to acknowledge this, but it is true. We Mexicans never did anything to the Japanese, but for not doing "fumie" stepping on the picture of Christ, our first martyr was a true believer from Mexico. So thanks Holland for spreading all those mean rumors (the protestants) to the Japanese samurais of that age.

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It's called fanatism. The same thing the terrorists use to blow up themselves. Sad to admit but getting rid of the christians was the right choice.

In defense of the martyrs, they were mostly poor Japanese peasants looking for something better. They can't be blamed for seeking hope. Christianity has a very seductive message for the downtrodden. And yes, the Dutch were far worse than the Catholics.

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bebert, could you please explain to the millions of Japanese who died following their "god", the Emperor during WWII, or the millions of victims around Asia of Japanese atrocities carried out in his name how "A Shinto/Buddhist Japan is preferrable to a Christian one"? The fact is these Christian martyrs did the exact same thing those Japanese soldiers and citizens did -- they died believeing they were following their faith. For you to say it was better that they were "snuffed out" is simply ignorent bias.

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It is also designed to be a celebration of the strength of Christianity in a culture dominated by Buddhism and Shintoism, organizers say. Christians make up only 1 percent of the Japanese population, but Japan now has its first Catholic prime minister—Taro Aso.

A culture dominated by superstition and spiritual void. Bebert (I wish he had chosen a less ridiculously froggy nickname) should open his eyes to the light of history and to the absence of teachings that the Japanese could use to govern their lifes.

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herefornow: But, Japan is still Japanese right? Sure, a christianized and possibly colonialized Japan would not lose all of its culture, it would be more like the Philippines probably, but still, I think that Japan as a whole was a lot better of throwing out political christianity, because it WAS a political tool, and eventually a form of cultural imperialism. Now, instead, Japan has her own version of christianity that doesn't conflict (too much) with Japanese culture. Surely that is better than if Japan was forced to have the same roman catholicism as the rest of the world?

To answer your question: A Shinto/Buddhist Japan is preferable to a christian one, since it A) better preserves Japans fantastic culture, B) I like it that way. As you can see, it is a very subjective outlook.

There is also nothing saying that atrocities could not have been committed by future Japanese soldiers even with christianity. War itself is an atrocity after all. Also, christian nations aren't exactly innocent in this regard. Atrocities committed in war is, I think, mainly due to difficulties for the individual soldier, and a lack of compassion for the enemy. It might be modified slightly by the soldiers religion, though.

In the japanese case, from reading a lot of soldiers letters, journals and so on, the average soldier didn't seem very religious, or believed he would go to Yasukuni after death. In fact, "see you in Yasukuni" was more of a last greeting than a genuine belief that one would end up there, and maybe also a slight touch of hope. Therefore, Japanese religion had a very small effect on japanese soldiers conduct during the war, I think.

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The cultural imperialists at that time were not healthy for Japan and brain washing the locals too. Further brainwashing today would not be a good either. I say keep them in the usa, especially the deep south or the dirty Vatican. widespread Christian religious conservative imperial extremists not needed everywhere on the globe.

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St Francis Xavier was warmly greeted by monks when he came to Japan because he spoke no Japanese and since he had come via India they thought he was teaching about Buddhism. Once St Francis Xavier had learned Japanese and began preaching in Japanese the monks realized he was teaching another religion and they tossed him out of the country.

Judging by the number of people today, in Japan, that are forced to endure hot springs, I conclude that the persecution continues.

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Proxy - dunno where you get your information from, but I've never heard such rubbish in all my life! St.Francis Xavier was not 'tossed out of the country' and certainly not by monks!! He spent just two years in Japan but in that time, converted thousands to the Catholic church! In one journal, it was noted that he aged rapidly in the two years he was here. There was never any confusion as to why he was here - and he was even asked to build his church here in Yamaguchi.

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888naff, it was such cultural imperialism, then why were the Japanese Christians willing to die for their faith? If it were an issue of conformity or force by any serious means, they would have felt more loyalty to their Japanese government and their lives than to their new religions.

You do realize that the majority of the world's evangelical Christians aren't in the USA, right?

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200,000 followers of Christianity in 16th-17th century Japan--really a remarkable number for a country that probably had no more than 25 million people at the time.

Considering what the Spanish and Portuguese did to the indigenous peoples of the areas that they did conquer in the 16th century, in retrospect the Japanese took a brutal but necessary approach. Francisco Pizarro, Hernando Cortes, and Vasco da Gama were not angels from heaven. Christians like them would have drawn and quartered the clueless, befuddled Japanese Emperor in his Kyoto residence had they gotten their hands on him. Think Atahualpa and the Incas.

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Youdontknow I didn't say he was not successful in converting people, but he was not popular with the local religious leaders. He went to visit the emperor and was rejected, sent packing out of that country and back to Yamaguchi. If one or two local daimyos were attracted to christianity by St Francis Xavier it was a political ploy to counter the rising treat of Shin Buddhism which united farmers, endangered the position of the daimyo, and centralized power in Osaka. It is no coincidence that St Francis Xavier spent most of his time in Kagoshima and Yamaguchi as those two areas were always rebellious and did not desire to fall under central control. The daimyo may have welcomed the chance of converting his people to a religion not controlled by the centralized monks but St Francis Xavier was certainly not welcomed by the monks when they figured out what he was up to.

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Interesting story, but a few factual errors. The number of Christians in Japan these days is now around 6% of the population, and not 1% as quoted above. That is according to a recent Mori Poll. I for one do not accept that Francis Xavier was the first person to bring Christianity to Japan. The truth is buried in the mists of time, and also the mists of Japanese educational brainwashing, especially about the history of Japan. One of the early disciples brought the Gospel as far as India, and others brought it to ancient China. I do not believe that God would have left the Japanese without hearing the Gospel for so many centuries. Its unthinkable. There is some evidence to suggest that Shintoism itself is an offshoot of Judaism, which went back to idolatry and pantheism. The design and layout of Shinto Shrines is exactly like that of the Jewish Tabernacle of the Old Testament, including the white cloth separating the "Holy of Holies" from the outer parts, which only the Shinto Priests may enter, after ritual washing/cleansing. There are also Jewish Star of David sumbols to be found on many ancient Shinto Shrines. The Japanese myth that Jesus was buried in Aomori is a case in point. I think this points to the fact that there were Christians here long before Xavier. This story is good news - recognition at last of the terrible atrocities committed against dear Japanese Vhristians so long ago, who stood firm in their faith and refused to compromise, even though it meant certain death in the most barbaric and descpicable way.

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realist-

I know of those similarities too and it sparked an interest. I found this scholarly paper on the net done by an exchange student in Japan a few years ago that depicted some of what the Christians went through and what this Japan Today article is mentioning.

http://www.iie.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/center/activities/japanese/pdf/2003report.pdf

You have to scroll down to page 90 I think.

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The number of Christians in Japan these days is now around 6% of the population, and not 1% as quoted above.

Actually, 1% the population is Christian, but this 1% forms 6% of those who express a faith.

As for who first brought Christianity to Japan, who knows? However, whether the Gospel had been taught or not, it is unlikely to have been at the will or whim of God. There have been plenty of tribes discovered in Brazil who had their first contact with the world in the 20th century, suggesting negligence on His part.

Similarities between Shintoism and Judaism are likely to be coincidences - the Star of David is such a logical thing to draw that it is highly probably that it would occur in more than one place on earth. If you look hard enough you will find links - rather like those cranks who go in for "Bible code".

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adm, that is the worst defense of a position I have ever read. Pure hypothetical and poppycock. In effect you are saying that Christianity was "political capitalism", which is dangerous/bad, but the brutal form of capitalism brought on Asia by Japan is acceptable because it was done consistent with their culture, which they would have lost if they had become Christian. (Huh?) Oh, and besides, most Japanese soldiers weren't religious anyway. You really need to do much better than that. And, there are many countries which still have their "culture" even though they are Christian. What culture, exactly, would Japan have lost if Christianity had been allowed to freely prosper along with other religions here?

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There is also nothing saying that atrocities could not have been committed by future Japanese soldiers even with christianity.

Indeed - christianity didn't seem to act as much a brake on the barbarism of Nazi Germany.

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Yep, in the long term Japan did right by keeping out an invasion of missionaries and proselytizing masses. One thing I like about Japan is the relative lack of a presence of organized religion.

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“They died for their faith—not for economic or political reasons,” said Martins, who is in Japan to attend the beatification on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. “They died 400 years ago, but they send us an important message.”

My understanding is that Christianity was tolerated until it stated to become involved in politics. The Judaism/Shinto thing sounds bogus.

A very quick summary from Wikipedia:

"Tokugawa Ieyasu assumed control over Japan in 1600. Like Toyotomi Hideyoshi, he disliked Christian activities in Japan. The Tokugawa shogunate finally decided to ban Catholicism, in 1614 and in the mid 1600's demanded the expulsion of all European missionaries and the execution of all converts. This marked the end of open Christianity in Japan.[89] The Shimabara Rebellion, led by a young Japanese Christian boy named Amakusa Shiro Tokisada, took place in 1637. After the Hara Castle fell, the shogunate forces beheaded an estimated 37,000 rebels and sympathizers. Amakusa Shirō's severed head was taken to Nagasaki for public display, and the entire complex at Hara Castle was burned to the ground and buried together with the bodies of all the dead. [90]

"Many of the Christians of Japan continued for two centuries to maintain their religion as Kakure Kirishitan, or hidden Christians, without any priest or other pastor. Some of those who were killed for their Christianity are venerated as the Martyrs of Japan by the Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church.

"Although Christianity was later allowed under the Meiji era, Christians again were pressured during the period of State Shinto."

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Regardless of how one feels about Christianity and religion, consistency and correctness should be maintained if one is going to claim any kind of legitimacy, so, all martyrs should be beatified. That Japanese Christian martyrdom has so long gone unrecognized by the Vatican is shameful.

I've known a number of Japanese families with Christian tradition going back into the pre-edo period; all of them have historically fascinating family heirlooms of hidden Christian artifacts, and family tradition stories of great interest. Recognition is long overdue.

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If you know someone is going to put you to death, and you let them, isn't that suicide?

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Similarities between Shintoism and Judaism are likely to be coincidences

Ah so, I thought so too. Then I did a little bit of leg work, and found in that article that the similarities go far beyond just outward appearances like a 6 pointed star. There are some Shinto rites and practices that anybody who has been to Sunday school would swear they came right out of the Old Testament.

I am above all, a skeptic, but there was so much evidence in that paper that I'm convinced that a remnant of ancient Israel colonized Japan.

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If you know someone is going to put you to death, and you let them, isn't that suicide?

"Christian martyrs "do not die in order to kill others, but rather give their life to save the life of others, so that they do not have to give up their faith, to support other believers out of love. They are not seeking death, but they do not renounce their faith or human behavior in order to save their own life." http://catholicexchange.com/2004/03/24/84741/

I imagine other religions have a similar argument.

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I believe the Shinto/Judaism connection to be accurate. Especially after spending time in China and seeing the similarities between the ancient religion of the Chinese aristocracy and Judaism and the recent finds of Jewish artifacts in northern China. That religion has connections with the Shinto traditions however not until after perversion of allowing deification due to the pressure of the ruling class some 2000 years ago.

Buddhism is not the religion of Japan. That is Shinto. It is not a Buddhist ritual that deifies the Emperor, it is Shinto. Buddhism was embraced by the ruling class in Japan as a means to control the lower classes. Christianity was indeed driven out of Japan but it was by the monks that pressured the leadership starting with Toyotomi. They feared the loss of their status more than anything else.

It is nonsense to say that Japan is better off for having cleansed the country of Christianity. Buddhism has been instrumental in propagating a class based society that has survived even until today. Christianity brought freedom and a sense of class mobility to the peasants and that meant that the monks would loose their status pure and simple.

Finally, one can not judge a religion by the resultant offshoots that may or may not bear a resemblance to the original teachings. Siddhartha would be appalled at what is passed off as Buddhism in Japan today and Jesus would be equally as appalled at what the Conquistadors did in His name.

The people that died clinging to their faith and peacefully seeking a better life and society deserve to be recognized and I applaud the efforts of the Japanese church that persevered to receive that recognition.

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I thinks some of you are putting words in my mouth.

While it was too bad for those Japanese who indeed did fully believe in the christian faith, you surely cannot deny that it was at this time a very political religion?

Tokugawa had heard of what had happened to the philippines, and while Japan and the Philippines had vastly different situations (population, strength of a central government etc) it's not certain Tokugawa knew all this, or he didn't want to take any chances. From his knowledge at the time, he did the right thing in banning christianity, to get rid of its political influence.

Buddhist sects also had vast political influence, but Tokugawa were used to them, knew how to deal with them, and they didn't have any gunships or armies with muskets.

herefornow: You're misunderstanding. I didn't say that Japans conquering spree during the 30's and 40's was good, I just said it had little to do with religion, but was entirely pragmatic.

Japan wouldn't have lost much of its culture had christianity been allowed to compete freely, but that is something the spanish and portuguese weren't interested in. Eventually, Japans christians may have been supported by ships and troops from abroad (this was, at least, Tokugawa's fears), and eventually Japan could have fallen to the europeans like the Philippines. Again, I think it would have been unlikely, but Tokugawa didn't know the spanish and portuguese strengths, he didn't know how many ships or soldiers they had.

If Japan would have fallen like the Philippines, then that's game over. Everyone would be forcibly converted (in time), people would eventually speak spanish, and many sides of japanese culture tied to shinto or buddhism would disappear. Perhaps it would have led to a more interesting japanese culture, who can say, but I am glad it is like it is now.

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but Japan now has its first Catholic prime minister—Taro Aso.

There goes the neighborhood.

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So what exactly are the pristine cultural attributes is that would have been lost had Buddhism lost its monopoly as the chosen religion of those of the warrior class and below? And is not possible that something positive and uniquely Japanese could have sprung from that as well?

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Christians in Japan of the 15th/16th centuries, especially the Catholics, are directly related to this country closing its borders and expelling all communication with the outside world, which absolutely led to narrow-mindedness and suspicion of foreigners we still see today in Japan.

Thanks Christianity for helping to mess up this country.

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Christians in Japan of the 15th/16th centuries, especially the Catholics, are directly related to this country closing its borders and expelling all communication with the outside world, which absolutely led to narrow-mindedness and suspicion of foreigners we still see today in Japan.

They are only related by what happened in between the two, that being the reaction of the government of the time. You can't isolate one reason for the current narrow-mindedness and suspicion of foreigners by Japanese, which is partly or mostly their fault because they don't make an effort to open their mind.

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