Japan’s access to Christianity

Tokyo

Regarding Scott Mintz’s May 27 letter, “Biblical vs. modern ideas of love“: Mintz stridently rejects the view that the story of Jesus describes in any way genuine love. It is apparent from his very selective and out-of-context citing of passages from the Bible that when it comes to God, Jesus and real love, he will look at the “truth” he wants to see. I see little point engaging in a point-by-point critique of his letter, as this would merely risk fueling a protracted and irreconcilable debate over faith, religion and philosophy.

That said, lest Japan Times readers be misled, I would like to address Mintz’s assertion that because “the New Testament only appeared in Japanese at the end of the 19th century,” God had denied Japanese people access to Christian teaching, and thus the ability to choose whether to follow Him or not, up until that point.

This claim is disingenuous and inaccurate by omission, stopping way short of the full extent of Japan’s Christian history. If he hasn’t already, I recommend that Mintz visit Nagasaki and Shimabara in Kyushu, where abundant evidence of the active practice of Christianity by the Japanese (as well as the persecution and martyrdom of Japanese Christians) should make it obvious to him that Japanese people had access to, understood and followed Christian teachings way back in the mid-1500s.

Moreover, based on both physical and cultural evidence, some historians have suggested that Japan’s Christian history goes back even further than that, reaching Japan from the Middle East via India and China early in the first millennium.

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

catherine wallace