Area: 377,801 sq km
A 3,000 km arc of four large islands (Honshu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, Kyushu) and 3,000 small islands in NW Pacific. Mountainous; only 13% can be cultivated.
Population: 126,995,411 Annual Growth: -0.07%
Official language: Japanese Languages: 16 All languages
Largest Religion: Buddhist
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Uncertainty about the future has prompted spiritual searching. This is partly in response to many economic and social changes that threaten the status quo in Japan. The constant threats of a major earthquake, of economic decline, the widening generation gap and the feeling of social isolation (hikikomori) that so many suffer provoke widespread soul-searching.
Spiritual openness is mitigated by hindrances to the gospel. There are several ways in which the eyes of the Japanese are blinded to the good news:
a) The spiritual powers and principalities that exercise authority in Japan have never been decisively challenged. The powers associated with idolatry in temples and ancestor worship in homes prevail, even in modernistic, non-religious Japan. Japanese Christians face notable social and family pressures to conform to Shinto practices, particularly at the New Year and during funerals. Additionally, too many Christians are either ignorant or in denial of the very real spiritual battle.
b) The Bible is alien to the worldview of the Japanese the concept of a Creator God is foreign to most. Strong pressure to conform to the norm causes many new believers to compromise or eventually fall away. The shame/honour mentality held by many Japanese is a different paradigm from that of most missionaries to Japan. Christians new and old must be discipled to have their entire worldview transformed.
c) The persistent influence of nationalistic Shintoism, which is hostile to anything âun-Japanese and compromises Christians involved with it. Pray for Christians to stand firm in Jesus against this pervasive spiritual force.
d) Socio-economic life. The sincere, polite, hardworking Japanese are too busy to give heed to the gospel. Materialism, very much on the rise, dominates the ambitions of most younger people. Only 10% believe in the existence of a personal God; only 50% have ever even desired help from God or gods.
e) New religions. The Japan-based Buddhist lay movement Sokka Gakkai has grown to include 10 million affiliates. Scores of new religions are started each year many based on the occult, worship of extraterrestrial aliens and so on. Their excesses, mind-control and brainwashing are well documented in the national media. Pray for the removal of a spirit of delusion. The 1995 gas attack on the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo sect reaffirmed to many the danger of deviating from traditional Shinto sensibilities.
For an additional 12 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Japan.