Tokyo archbishop: It is ‘difficult to find success’ on evangelization in Japan

Tokyo, Japan, Nov 4, 2019 / 05:05 pm (CNA).- Efforts by the Catholic Church to evangelize the Japanese population have frequently collided with roadblocks, according to Archbishop of Tokyo Isao Kikuchi, but the Church is still finding some ways to proclaim the Gospel. The archbishop answered the question from Catholic News Agency on Japan, evangelization, and why breaking through into mainstream Japanese society is so difficult for a religion that has survived persecution and genocide in the country since 1549.

The interview came just weeks before Pope Francis visits the country Nov. 23-26.

“In Japanese society, it is difficult to find tangible success in missionary activities.”

According to the most recent available data, approximately 35% of Japanese claim Buddhism as their religion, while around 3-4% claim adherence to Shinto or associated Japanese folk religions. Only 1-2% of Japanese claim Christianity as their faith, and only around half of Japanese Christians are Catholic……

…..a powerful evangelization tool, Kikuchi says, is the Catholics population that have come and made their lives in Japan from abroad….

… important task that must be given priority is to encourage foreign nationals who have settled in Japan to become aware of their missionary vocation as Catholics.”

Kikuchi believes it’s up to the clergy to instill in foreigners this sense of missionary spirituality.

“Pastoral care for foreign nationals in the Japanese church is not merely a service to welcome [guests], but rather a duty to make them aware of their vocation as missionaries.”

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