Nov 21st, 2008 | TOKYO -- Samurai warriors, housewives and children were crucified, thrown into hot springs and tortured, but refused to renounce their religion. Japan's extraordinary but relatively unknown history of Christian persecution is finally receiving recognition in a beatification of 188 martyrs.
The upcoming ceremony on Monday bestows honors from the Roman Catholic Church that are one step short of sainthood for Japanese killed from 1603 to 1639. The ceremony is expected to draw 30,000 people to a baseball stadium in the southwestern city of Nagasaki.
These 2 paragraphs are true, as far as it goes. What is not stated, though, not mentioned at all in the article or by the Vatican is what on earth might have driven the Japanese to do these things??
Well, the years 1603 to 1639 might be a dead giveaway.
Anyway, see here, here, and here. Yeah, Wikipedia, but the first 2 references should show the Wikipedia one's pretty noteworthy here. From the first reference:
[W]e should also take note of a few Bud
dhist anti-Christian scriptures that provided material for Buddhist criti
cism and strengthened its prejudice against Christianity. The first major
Buddhist anti-Christian work was Ha-Daiusu or Ha-Deusu [Refutation
of Deus],24 written in 1620 by Fabian Fucan, the apostate Jesuit brother.
Fabian had previously written an apology for Christianity, Myōtei
mondō [Myōtei dialogue],25 which purported to demonstrate the superi
ority of Christianity over Buddhism, Confucianism, and Shinto. Ha
Daiusu represented a sort of formal retraction of his previous defense of
Christianity;26 it was a passionate and eloquent expression of Buddhist
anti-Christian thought, reflecting the Buddhist-Christian controversies of
the previous decades and the Buddhist animosity toward Christianity in
the early Tokugawa period. In Ha-Daiusu, Fabian rejected the Christian
doctrines in seven steps, describing God and his creation, reward and
punishment, the fall of the angels and heaven and hell, the fall of Adam
and original sin, God's promise to send a savior, the incarnation and the
life of Christ, and, finally, the commandments and the sacraments. The
Christian doctrine was, according to Fabian, not only ridiculous and
childish, but dangerous, for absolute loyalty to God implied the right to
revolt. In the First Commandment "lurks the intention to subvert and
usurp the country, to extinguish Buddha's Law and Royal Sway," he
warned. "Quick, quick! Put this gang in stocks and shackles!" With
Fabian's inside knowledge of Christianity as a previous Jesuit brother, his
refutation naturally made a decisive impact on the Buddhist community
and became a source of information for later Buddhist attacks on Chris
From the 2nd reference, a bit more apologetic to the Kirishitans:
Had the Jesuits remained contented to preach religion perhaps expulsions and martyrdoms might have been avoided. The Jesuits as this time, however, were anything but humble missionaries. They meddled in politics, attempted to influence trade to their own advantage, and even attempted to rule. The most egregious example is the accession of Nagasaki. The Jesuits did not hold this important port for long however. Hideyoshi was shocked to find them there and quickly added Nagasaki to his own domain. Other examples are seen in the Jesuit approach to the emperor or volunteering manpower to Hideyoshi. All these actions appeared subversive to the bakufu, which, indeed, they were. When the Tokugawa finally unified the country, one of its first acts was to expel the Christians. Of course, I hope no one in this seminar will confuse this with a "closed door" policy!
I think we in the US often discount the fact that after a long and brutal civil war, the first thing a government might want to do is ensure that subversives don't re-open a can of worms. I mean, that is why there were Radical Republicans during Reconstruction in the US, and (unlike Japan) the triumph of the racists at the end of Reconstruction delayed development of the US national view of its people for decades.
Let me put it another way: Hideyoshi was right to crush Christianity - it threatened to re-ignite civil war.
And the Vatican has never renounced its intent to meddle in state affairs for its own worldly ends.
In fact, the Kirishitans are still lying about it:
The beatification follows a 27-year effort, including research and documentation of the martyrs' lives, which began with a visit by Pope John Paul to Japan in 1981, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins said Friday.
"They died for their faith -- not for economic or political reasons," said Martins, who is in Japan to attend the beatification on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI. "They died 400 years ago, but they send us an important message."
Christianity in Japan began with the arrival of Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier in 1549. At first, missionaries were welcomed and Christianity blossomed, growing to as many as 200,000 followers, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan.
But in 1587, shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered the missionaries expelled, although the order was not immediately enforced. A decade later, the crackdown began, and 26 Christians were crucified.
Why wasn't it enforced at first? Likely Hideyoshi wanted to see if the incitements to burn Buddhist temples (mentioned in the original edict) were going to go away, and evidently they didn't.
One can admit that what the Japanese did was brutal, but it was not done in a vacuum.