Essays on the Modern Japanese Church
Christianity in Meiji Japan
Translated by Graham Squires, with Introductory Essays by Graham Squires and A. Hamish Ion
Argues that Christianity played a critical role in the development of modern Japan.
Essays on the Modern Japanese Church (Gendai Nihon kyokai shiron) , by Yamaji Aizan, published in 1906, was the first Japanese-language history of Christianity in the Meiji period. A firsthand account of the role Christianity played in the social, political, and intellectual life of Meiji Japan, Essays describes the reintroduction of Christianity to Japan--its development, rapid expansion, and decline. Yamaji's overall argument is that Christianity played a crucial role in shaping the growth of modern Japan.
Yamaji was a strong opponent of the government-sponsored "emperor-system ideology," and through his historical writing he tried to show how Japan had a tradition of tolerance and openness at a time when government-sponsored intellectuals were arguing for greater conformity and submissiveness to the state on the basis of Japanese "national character."
Essays is important not only in terms of religious history but also because it highlights broad trends in the history of Meiji Japan. Introductory chapters explore the significance of the work in terms of the life and thought of its author and its influence on subsequent interpretations of Meiji Christianity.
Praise / Awards
"Squires and Ion are to be congratulated on providing more ready access to some fascinating source material."
--Mark Williams, University of Leeds, Journal of Asian Studies, November 2000
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