Christianity was introduced in the sixteenth century by Portuguese and Spanish Roman Catholic missionaries, but, because it was associated with Western imperialism and considered a threat to Japanese political control, it was banned from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. With the reopening of Japan in the mid-1850s, missionaries again arrived. While fewer than 1 million people (less than 1 percent of the population) consider themselves Christian in the early 1990s, Christianity is respected for its contributions to society, particularly in education and social action. There are more than 7,600 places of Christian worship in Japan. In the late 1980s, about 64 percent of all Christians belonged to Protestant churches, about 32 percent to the Roman Catholic Church, and about 4 percent to other Christian denominations.
|Country Studies main page | Japan Country Studies main page|