Christianity is just one of the minor religions in Japan. Less than 1% of the total population is considered Christian. Despite that fact, the country is regarded as one of the secular nations around the world where religious principles are followed on certain occasions. Let’s have a quick view of how Christianity flourished in Japan in the past.
There were many European missionaries in the past who hoped to bring Christianity to Japan. One of them was an Italian missionary named Giovanni Battista Sidotti who was also a secular priest and apostolic missionary of Propaganda Fide, a congregation related to missionary works and activities.
While not the first missionary in Japan, he entered the country during the Edo Period in which he disguised himself as a samurai wearing a kimono. Under Japanese law at that time, missionary martyrdom was considered illegal. Christian creed was considered hostile to the country but he still pursued his mission after being granted permission from Pope Clement XI. It was not long before he was recognized as a foreigner as he quite obviously stood out from the rest. He was captured and thrown in the Christian’s prison.
Giovanni was considered to be among the top scholars of his time. Part of his interrogations while being detained was to answer the questions of a top Confucian scholar, Arai Hakuseki. He admired Giovanni’s knowledge on geography, language and global affairs s much that he tried helping him by asking the government for deportation instead of imprisonment. However, it didn’t work. He was under house arrest under the supervision of two couples who tended his needs. Allegations arose that he baptized the couples and was then sent to the dungeon where he died in 1714. Hakuseki then published a study regarding the conversation that he had with Giovanni in order for history to know.
Giovanni is regarded as one of the martyrs in Japanese history who went a long way just to declare the religious principles of Christianity. Recently, a DNA analysis gave confirmation on his remains from a construction site in Tokyo. With this, more information is expected to be unraveled regarding Christianity’s history in the country.