The Protestant Missions — March 29, 2011 at 4:14 am

In 1888 the Christian schools of Japan were at the height of their prosperity.


Count Inoue Kaoru was a Japanese statesman and a member of the Meiji oligarchy that ruled Japan during the Meiji period (1868–1912).

In 1888 the Christian schools of Japan were at the height of their prosperity. For example, the Doshisha had in its Theological Department 80 pupils; in the Academic Department, 410; in the Preparatory Department, 208; and in the Girls’ School, 180. One teacher wrote: “We should be quite overwhelmed with students if we had not made a strict resolution not to admit another student into the new class this year”.

Marquis Ōkuma Shigenobu; was a Japanese statesman and the 8th and 17th Prime Minister of Japan. Ōkuma was also an early advocate of Western science and culture in Japan, and founder of Waseda University.

Doshisha visited by Count Inoue:

In the spring this school was visited by Count Inoue, who had just resigned the post of Foreign Minister. In an address to the students he expressed his approval of it as an institution that aimed “at the promotion of moral and intellectual culture equally and simultaneously.”

“We have made,” he added,” progress in scientific knowledge. We may even hope to attain in this to a level with the Occident. How, then, can we rest satisfied with ethical systems adapted only to Oriental standards?” Though too much must not be made of complimentary speeches, the mere fact of the appearance of such a person at a Christian school showed a change in public sentiment. A few months later, the Doshisha was visited by the Head of the Household Department.

Mr. Neesima raising funds for the opening of a university:

There was more substantial proof of the interest that influential men were taking in these schools. In

Itō Miyoji

November, 1888, there appeared in twenty of the leading journals of Japan a plea by Mr. Neesima for funds by which the Doshisha should be made a university. It began by telling how in his youth he had gone to America and obtained an education, of the desire he had imbibed to give his own people such opportunities as existed there, of the way in which he had been enabled to open the schools in Kyoto, and of his belief that the time had come for establishing a university. He had already been encouraged by contributions of one thousand yen each from Counts Okuma and Inoue, five hundred yen from Count Aoki, and sums varying from two thousand to six thousand yen from eight business men. Counts Ito and Katsu, and Viscount Enomoto had promised aid, as had also friends in America. The document abounded in references to Christianity. It said:

Count Katsu Kaishū was a Japanese naval officer and statesman during the Late Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji period

Viscount Enomoto Takeaki was a Japanese Navy admiral faithful to the Tokugawa Shogunate who fought against the new Meiji government until the end of the Boshin War, but later served in the government as one of the founders of the Imperial Japanese Navy.

” To express our hopes in brief, we seek to send out into the world not only men versed in literature and science, but young men of strong and noble character by which they can use their learning for the good of their fellowmen. This, we are convinced, can never be accomplished by abstract, speculative teaching, nor by strict and complicated rules, but only by Christian principles —“the living and powerful principles of Christianity and therefore we adopt these principles as the unchangeable foundation of our educational work, and devote our energies to their realization”

To this new enterprise Mr. Neesima now gave all his strength, alas I too much enfeebled for such a great undertaking. Not only did he receive money and promises from individuals, but the Prefectural Assembly of Nagoya promised one thousand yen, and it seemed probable that some other prefectures, desiring a university in that part of Japan, might follow this example. Hon. J. N. Harris of New London, Connecticut, gave $100,000 gold for the establishment of a scientific department. Useless though such meditations may be, one cannot always refrain from thinking of history as it might have been written had not certain events occurred. Had Mr. Neesima’s life been spared and had the reaction against Western ideas been postponed for a few years, it seems probable that there would have been established in Kyoto a strong Christian university whose influence would have greatly affected the educational and religious development of Japan.


More info about Count Inoue here

see here for Count Itō Miyoji

and here for Count Okuma

see info about count Katsu here

Viscount Enomoto’s page here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *