Japan is one of the most orderly societies in the world. In terms of global economy, the people of this nation are advanced, tech-savvy, and wealthy.
However, Japan is also at a point in its history where it is experiencing unprecedented social upheaval, which creates anxiety and uncertainty throughout the culture.
For example, Japan has the oldest and the most rapidly aging population of any country in the world. There’s been a rapid disintegration of the youth culture, where few young adults seem to navigate life by a moral compass. Those caught in the middle are caring for aging parents and despairing over their children. All of those issues have shaken Japan to its core.
The strength test on Japan’s government came in the form of a triple disaster in 2011: the earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear disaster.
An Operation Mobilization ship staffer (unnamed for security reasons) says they saw that shift firsthand in their recent visit to Japan. “This visit was significant in the fact that we expected to find coolness toward the Gospel, and one of the big differences that we experienced was a very warm response to the Gospel.”
How did they get that impression? Nagasaki was the entry point for missions into the country, also a place of persecution and even martyrdom. But, notes the OM ship staffer, that was hundreds of years ago. While the overt hostility has tempered historically, there has been a chilly reception to Christianity and the Gospel message. Although OM Ships have stopped in Japan 21 other times, this was Logos Hope’s first visit to the ports of Nagasaki and Kanazawa (where 80,000 people visited the ship).
This time, there was a definite thaw. “There’s, of course, great insecurity within the country, within the population. People are questioning their future and questioning why their developed society is vulnerable to natural disasters.” Nationally, Christians number only 1/2 of 1% of the population. However, this staff member noted, “As we shared about our project and about our lives, we found that many people were very anxious to hear about the hope and the security we have in our relationship with God.” In fact, “anxious” might not be the right descriptor. “During the two weeks that we were in Nagasaki, we reported 50 people who made decisions to follow Jesus as their Lord and Savior.”
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