.- Efforts by the Catholic Church to evangelize the Japanese population have frequently collided with roadblocks, according to Archbishop of Tokyo Isao Kikuchi, but the Church is still finding some ways to proclaim the Gospel.
The archbishop answered question from Catholic News Agency on Japan, evangelization, and why breaking through into mainstream Japanese society is so difficult for a religion that has survived persecution and genocide in the country since 1549.
The interview came just weeks before Pope Francis visits the country Nov. 23-26.
“In Japanese society, it is difficult to find tangible success in missionary activities.”
According to the most recent available data, approximately 35% of Japanese claim Buddhism as their religion, while around 3-4% claim an adherence to Shinto or associated Japanese folk religions. Only 1-2% of Japanese claim Christianity as their faith, and only around half of Japanese Christians are Catholic.
“In the past, foreign missionaries succeeded in opening classrooms, gathering the people through English and cultural classes. However, these have been replaced by the initiatives of business enterprises.”
Foreign language education proved to be a powerful tool for cross-cultural pollination after World War II. It was demanded for high-paying positions in international business and politics, and only natively spoken by a fraction of a percentage of the population.