Area Intel on Japan and Okinawa

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Situation Summary

Francis Xavier brought Christianity to Japan in 1549. Today less than one percent of Japan's population follows Jesus Christ, but that is still nearly one million people.

Japan Islands & Peoples
Over 150 different mission agencies are working in Japan. Nevertheless, many cities and villages in Japan still have no Christian witness, and growth of existing churches is painfully slow.

Shintoism, which is founded on establishing relationships with the spirits of both nature and one's ancestors, is the native religion of Japan. Buddhism, which can be assimilated into Shintoism, began growing in Japan in the sixth century. While most Japanese identify themselves as either Buddhist, Shinto, or both, at least eighty percent of Japanese are not practicing any religion.

Although secularism has swept Japan, many are hungry for a spiritual experience. An average of 100 new cults shooting off of Buddhism and Shintoism are founded every year. The largest of these, Sokka Gakai, has over 17 million adherents.

Japan's national population approaching 122 million is one of the most homogenous in the world. Minorities are fewer than one percent. These include the Ainu (an all but extinct aboriginal people), immigrant foreigners (Koreans, Chinese, Americans, Filipinos, Pakistanis, and Malays), and the seven indigenous people groups of the Ryukyu Islands, each with its own disappearing culture and no Scriptures in their respective disappearing native languages.

Alternately subjugated by Chinese and Japanese invaders, Ryukyuan peoples adopted a stance of tolerance and passivity. Considered to be backward by the Japanese, the principally Buddhist Ryukyuan peoples are steeped in superstition. They often believe in many unseen natural and ancestral spirits which must be appeased but can also be manipulated. Spirits of the ancestors who are buried in elaborate tombs are venerated by the community, and the spirit powers of nature are worshipped in households. These powers are frequently consulted before major personal and household decisions.

Resouce and Contact Information

Resource and Contact Information
Resource / Organization Phone Number Web Site
JESUS video in Japanese 1-800-560-8713
Japanese Scripture Audio Tapes 1-760-745-8105
Gospel Radio Broadcasting in Japanese 1-719-548-7490
Japanese Language Scriptures From:
International Bible Society
American Bible Society
Scripture Gift Mission

Japanese Language Christian Literature 1-717-738-0582
List of Mission Agencies Working in Japan -
Search for Churches in Japan -
Connect Japanese returning from abroad
with Christians in their home country
Japan Evangelical Missionary Association -
Japan Language Learning Resources -