Publication Date



College of Arts and Sciences



Primary Subject Area

History, Asia, Australia and Oceania; Religion, History of


Japanese Christians, Japanese History, Missionaries to Japan


Asian Studies | Missions and World Christianity


A Jesuit missionary named Francis Xavier pioneered the Christian faith in Japan in 1549. Japan was open to the gospel, and many missionaries followed Francis Xavier. Japanese people from a wide range of social standings supported Christianity for a variety of reasons. The Tokugawa government soon viewed Christianity as a threat to the authority of the Japanese government. Japan persecuted the Christians and the Japanese church was driven underground. Over two hundred years later during the Meiji Restoration, Japan altered its policies towards the West and tolerated Christianity in Japan. Despite never being fully welcomed, the Christian belief resonated with many well-educated Japanese men. Some of the most well educated men in Japan became Christians and their work influenced the formation of Japan during a crucial time in its history. These men’s goal to develop Christianity in Japan helped shape Japan as a nation and develop Modern Japan.