Christianity spread rapidly in Japan after it was introduced in the 16th century by Portuguese missionaries with 300,000 Japanese being converted by the turn of the century. However this trend reversed and there was a lot of resentment towards Christians leading to their persecution and execution with all missionary activities in Japan being proscribed in 1630. It was only 250 years later that Japan reestablished contacts with the western world. The persecution and execution of early Japanese Christians and missionaries has drawn a lot of interest from scholars in the fields of political science and sociology. This paper aims to provide a logical explanation to the question: After Portuguese missionaries brought Christianity to Japan in 1549, Christianity spread quickly. However, it created tension between people in Japan. Why did the Japanese persecute Christians even though they accepted it in the beginning? Journal articles and primary sources will be analyzed in order to better understand this phenomenon.
The Japanese persecution of early Christians was as a result of a clash of civilizations. This hypothesis is arrived at after studying different materials that are related to this topic. To begin with, we need to understand to look at what a clash of civilization is and the circumstances that led to this phenomenon. A civilization emanates from the cultural practices of a large group of people, usually in the millions, who have developed distinct social, political and religious institutions as well as systems of art. Modern day civilizations include; the Western rooted in Europe And North America, the Slavic rooted in Russia and Eastern Europe , the Sinic, the Islamic, the Japanese, the Hindu, the Latin American and the African civilizations.
Civilizations have a lifespan, a fact that is well known even to the members of the civilization. This is why any threat to the survival of a particular civilization, however minimal, is not taken lightly. This quest for self preservation has brought different civilizations into direct conflict during different periods in history. The perpetual conflict between Islam and Western civilization may be largely attributed to this fact. The rationale behind a civilization’s self preservation can be understood as some of the most formidable civilizations during ancient times no longer exist. These include; the great and powerful Babylon, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Another reason may be the time and resources needed to build a civilization. For a civilization to thrive it needs a large population which may take ages to achieve. It also takes a lot of work to instill uniform cultural practices across the entire population constituting the civilization.
The contemporary source of global conflict is the clash of civilization. After the signing of the treaty of Westphalia which established the current international system, conflict was mainly as a result of Western absolute monarchs in pursuit of territorial aggrandizement. They wanted to expand their political, social and religious institutions beyond their boundaries. This led to the emergence of nations. The French revolution which was the beginning of the end for the monarchies in the western world and nation states were established henceforth. This led to the emergence of a new phase in global conflict with the nation states trying to establish themselves as the dominant force in the Western world. The climax of the conflict between nations was World War 1. The Russian revolution after World War 1 led to conflict ideological of communism, fascism-Nazi and liberal democracy. After World War 2, two super powers emerged marking the beginning of the cold war. These are the U.S. and the USSR. The cold war was an ideological war of capitalism and communism. The world was divided down right the middle with each super power trying to exert its influence over the other. This almost led to another world war when USSR deployed missiles facing the U.S. in 1963. The cold war ended with the collapse of the Soviet block. This marked the new world order with the nation states in the entire world conforming to a single ideology; capitalism. With this development, the clash of civilization is the new source of conflict in the international system. This is well illustrated by the war between the Islamic civilization and Western civilization.