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Valignano, Society of Jesus, Jesuit, Japan, Accommodation


When Alessandro Valignano arrived in Japan in 1579, the Society of Jesus had been working in the country for thirty years. However, despite impressive numbers and considerable influence with the feudal lords, the mission was struggling. The few Jesuit workers were exhausted and growing increasingly frustrated by the leadership of Francisco Cabral, who refused to cater to Japanese sensibilities or respect the Japanese people. When Valignano arrived, he saw the harm Cabral was doing and forcibly changed the direction of the mission, pursuing policies of Jesuit accommodation to Japanese culture and respect for the Japanese converts who were training to become priests. These policies were based in respect for Japan’s culture and love for its people. Under three years of Valignano’s leadership the fortunes of the Jesuit mission changed and the Society’s work in Japan began to flourish once again. Indeed, Valignano set the course for the next thirty years of the Japanese mission.