Introduction / History The Portuguese were among the first Europeans to have contact with the Japanese. Portuguese merchants and Jesuit missionaries arrived in Japan roughly 500 years ago. Some of the merchants bought and sold Japanese slaves, which the missionaries recognized as a barrier to the gospel.
Racially, culturally, and ethnically, the Japanese are one of the most homogenous people groups in the world. They identify themselves in terms of biological heritage, birth in Japan, a shared culture, and a common language (Japanese).
At the end of WWII, Japan lay in ruins, but they soon emerged as an economic power. Today their economy is the third largest in the world. In order to keep their many multi-national corporations running the way they want them to, some Japanese employees have had to move to countries like Portugal.
Where are they located? The vast majority of the Japanese live in Japan, but there is also a diaspora all over the world. The Japanese diaspora is especially strong in Brazil, Peru, Canada, and the US, but they are also in European countries like Portugal.
What are their lives like? Today's Japanese diaspora is primarily professional and business-savvy. They have a strong work ethic, and they work long hours. Frequently they have little social contact with the local population, and they speak mainly Japanese among themselves.
The uniqueness of Japanese culture can be seen in their art forms, which include the highly refined flower arrangements, calligraphy, puppetry, and theater. Typically Japanese housewives participate in some of these art forms at local Buddhist temples while their husbands are at work. Christian women might have the opportunity to reach these Japanese housewives in their homes by bringing them the JESUS Film and the Magdalena Film.
Traditional and Western forms of recreation include baseball, sumo wrestling, judo, karate, table tennis, fishing, volleyball, shogi (Japanese chess) and go (a complicated game of strategy). Gardening is a popular hobby for both men and women.
What are their beliefs? The Japanese are usually both Buddhist and Shintoist. Many Japanese are indifferent and skeptical of established religion. Some treat religion as a means towards an end. But given the high number of Japanese-based religious groups, one can surmise that many Japanese are looking for some form of spirituality.
What are their needs? On the outside, the Japanese seem to have few needs. However, many of them have become obsessed with materialistic pleasures, careers, and possessions. Their greatest need is to be introduced to the Father through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Prayer Points * Pray for the Japanese to open their hearts to the claims of Jesus.
* Pray that Christian businessmen will have open doors to share the gospel with the Japanese.
* Pray that Japanese believers will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their families and friends.
* Pray that God will raise up teams of intercessors to stand in the gap to faithfully pray for these precious people.
* Pray for the Holy Spirit to birth a cascading discipleship movement among the Japanese in Europe for God's glory.