Japan has four major Islands – Honshu (3/5 area of the country), Hokkaido, Shikoku and Kyushu and many small Islands extending arc of about 3500 km, from Hokkaido in the northeast to Islands of Ryukyu in the South-West. Japan is separated from the southeastern coast of Russia and East coasts of the DPRK and the Republic of Korea by the sea of Japan, from China – the East China sea. The South-Western extremity of Japan and South East Korea are separated by the Korea Strait with the minimum width of approx. 180 km. North of Japan is Sakhalin island. and to the North-East of the Kuril ridge.
Japan is a constitutional monarchy. The Emperor performs certain ceremonial functions (present on the official celebrations, national holidays). Based on the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers he signs official documents prepared by the government, laws, international treaties, convene the Parliament session and dissolves the lower house, sets the date of elections to the Parliament, assures the appointment and dismissal of Ministers and other senior officials confirmed the authority of their ambassadors and receives foreign ambassadors, confirms the Declaration of Amnesty, he confers awards and honorary titles. By decision of the Parliament the Emperor appoints the Prime Minister and the last member of the Cabinet and chief justice of the Supreme court. Legally, the Emperor is powerless and deprived of the right to vote in matters of governance. However, his personality remains an important figure, because it is, as the Constitution says, “a symbol of state and unity of the nation”.
The main religions in Japan – Shintoism and Buddhism. Shintoism, Japanese religion actually, and Buddhism, borrowed in China. can coexist, as they deal with different sides of human life: Shinto is “responsible” for the present life, and the Buddhism of the supernatural. Make of marriage mainly Shinto priests; the ceremony on the occasion of the funeral is made at a Buddhist temple. New year’s eve, Japanese people traditionally visit the Holy places. After December 31, 11 PM to them thousands of people to the gods in the coming year have not forgotten them and gave health and wealth.
In 1549 the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier was the beginning of the Catholic mission in Japan. By the end of the XVI century the number of believers has reached 300 thousand Many princes embraced Catholicism and his vassals and peasants. But because of fears of the Japanese authorities and complications of political relations with Europe in 1587, after the ban on the stay of missionaries who imposed Toyotomi Hideyoshi began the persecution of believers. In 1597 for violation of the decree of 26 Christians were crucified . In 1611 -1614, there were new anti-Christian edicts, and in 1639 the confession of Christianity in Japan was permanently banned. Christians were burned, beaten, crucified, buried alive in the ground and subjected to other torture.
In 1873, when Japan after the Meiji Restoration (1868) entered the path of modernization and active borrowing of Western culture, on the edict of prohibition of Christianity was withdrawn.
Orthodoxy in Japan
Although the Japanese first encountered Orthodoxy in the face of Orthodox Kuril Ainu. christened by the Russian missionaries, the immediate precursor to the establishment of the Russian spiritual mission in Japan was the opening of the Russian Consulate in Japan in 1858 and the appointment Goshkevich first Consul in Hakodate. He became the first warden of the Orthodox Church of Japan – consular resurrection Church. After the Consul arrived to serve consultora personnel Archpriest Vasily Makhov. Because of illness he was forced to return home in 1860 and in his place was caused by a new cleric, who became the future prosvetitel Japan by St. Nicholas (Kasatkin). Read more about the history of the Japanese Church, see Japanese Orthodox Church
Christian teaching is close and clear to the minds of the Japanese (major role in this was played by the Shinto. the main commandment which is to love one’s neighbor), but Orthodoxy is often perceived as a modern Japanese cultural phenomenon or philosophy and not as faith. This contributed much to the preaching of Protestant missionaries, the era of the Meiji enlightenment and the philosophy of Shintoism, Buddhism and Confucianism. before Christianity. The word “Orthodoxy” is translated into Japanese as “sake”, meaning “correct doctrine”, which is reflected in his understanding of the Japanese.
In 1993, in Japan there were 117 million shintoists. 90 million Buddhists. 1.5 million 11 million Christians and adherents of other religions. Overall this is twice the entire population of the Japanese Islands. However, the statistics don’t lie. Just the Japanese who don’t like clear definitions and self-imposed strict limits, profess several religions, although in everyday life they are less religious than any other nation in the world .
At the moment the number of Christians of all denominations in Japan does not exceed one percent of the population. Most of them are Catholics and Protestants.