the nikku

reflecting on ESL/EFL and its relation to faith

Thursday, April 09, 2009

The Shame of History

This is part of an email discussion I've been having with a friend:

Actually when the first protestant missionaries came to Japan because they were so small in numbers - and for clarity's sake - they tried to be one ecumenical group.  But when more missionaries came and sending organizations can congregations wanted to see "results", they broke up.  That was the first year or two of protestant missions in the early Meiji era.

The catch of the government Kyodan was that it put the church line of authority directly under the government's Ministry of Religion Department.  The Buddhists and Shintoists were governed by this ministry too.  

Then they started emperor worship in school for a couple years.  After that they required all public places to worship the emperor or close the building. When the church complained the government said, "Your kids already do it."

But maybe you already know all this.  Basically Christians didn't see it coming, and were trapped under government authority before they knew it.  When they had to make the hard choice of God's authority of government authority, they made the wrong choice.  

I hear there were a lot of neighborhood patrols and secret police and stuff too.  People who just vanished one day after a visit from the police and never returned.

We still don't talk about this much in the Kyodan.  The Kyodan wrote an offical apology and clearer statement of faith that they believed in only one God above government authority.  But that was a little late - in the 70's or 80's.

I think it's important to talk about this too.  Because that way we can learn from history and look to waht to do in the future.  Otherwise we will just be stuck with the same problems.  

Most of this info I learned in reverse from Christians outside the Kyodan asking me about the Kyodan.  Kyodan church goers generally don't like other denominations because they keep bringing this up.  And the younger Kyodan members don't even know this history well themselves!

But that's typical.  After the war, and the occupation, Japan in general didn't know what to do.  They were slow to apologize to the other Asian nations, and then the Korean war started.  One of the Japanese Prime Ministers even went so far as to say the Korean War was "a gift from the gods" so that we don't have to have the shame of apologozing.  And after that everyone was too busy with Korea, and then Vietnam, the Cold War.  It didn't become an issue again for along time.

Even now, I meet few Japanese people who are willing to talk about that time in history.  It's mostly hear no evil, see no evil.  After the war, Japan became a peace loving pacifist country and an economic giant.  That's what most people I meet think about history after the war.

Right now, one of my friends is having a baby out of wedlock.  She was the sweetest girl before that.  This is probably one of the few major mistakes of her life.  I've known her for three years now.  She's one of my longest running friends.  The baby is due next month.  But she and the father are doing the right thing, getting married, having the baby.  Looking for a house and everything.  It won't be easy, but I actually look up to her for doing the right thing.

But she doesn't see it that way, she sees it all as shame.

From this experience, I think what they say about guilt and shame in this country is true.  She doesn't seem to be all that guilty about her choice herself.  But whenever anyone mentions it even slightly, she is obviously heavily ashamed.  She feels she can't come to church or anything.  She'd rather just aviod the problem.  See no evil, speak no evil.

I think this is the same way Japan in general (and church goers of Kyodan churches) feel about the war.  Let's just ignore it and talk about peace and pacifism.  

By the way, "See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" is Tokugawa Government propoganda.  

And "Japan is all one race, one culture, one family" is Meiji Government propoganda.

Now, back to work. ^_^


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep. I should get back to that conversation. It's really interesting.

But I need to write my paper. Dadgum! (Dad gum? Is that something like ABC gum?)

4/21/2009 1:13 AM  

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