Roman Catholic Missions — June 4, 2010 at 11:18 pm

More Persecution!


Sir Harry Smith Parkes

November 12, in Hisakashima, a small island belonging to the Goto group, twenty-two heads of families were arrested and taken to the chief town of the islands. Immediately afterward, with the exception of six young men who escaped, the whole remaining population, men, women, and children one hundred and eighty-one persons in a ll, were shut up in the house belonging to one of them, this improvised prison being so crowded that there were seventeen persons to a single mat. The food given them was insufficient. One child and one old person soon died. There were arrests in other places. In January, 1869, a letter of instruction from the Supreme Council warned the Daimyo in Goto that in taking action against the Christians care should be exercised that nothing concerning it should become known outside.
Early in January, 1870, all the Christians of Urakami, about three thousand in number, were embarked on two steamers. The men were first sent on board and were followed by the women and children. Those of the women who had been admitted to the sacraments wore upon their heads the white cloths that had been given to them as veils at the time of their baptism. Many were seen to make the sign of the cross as they got into the boats that bore them to the steamers.
The foreigners in Nagasaki were moved with pity and indignation. Nothing was effected by a protest of the consuls; while Sir Harry Parkes, the English Minister, who arrived in Nagasaki while the Christians were being collected, asked in vain that the proceedings be delayed for fifteen days in order that he might have time to communicate with the Central Government. On his return to Tokyo, he joined with the representatives of the other treaty powers in asking for a conference with the highest officers of the state. The request was granted, and the meeting was held January 19. It was attended by Sir Harry Parkes, and Messrs. Outrey, De Long, and Von Brandt, the representatives respectively of Great Britain, France, and the

Maximilian August Scipio von Brandt (* 8 October 1835 in Berlin; † 24 August 1920 in Weimar) was a German diplomat, East Asia expert and publicist. Max von Brandt was the son of Prussian general and military author Heinrich von Brandt. He was baptized as protestant and attended the French College in Berlin. At first he became a Prussian officer before taking part in the Eulenburg Expedition of 1860/61 to East Asia leading to the signage of a Japanese-Prussian trade-treaty on January, 24th. Afterwards, Max von Brandt was consul and later general consul of the North German Confederation, and from 1872, German "Ministerresident" in Japan. From 1875 to 1893 he then was imperial envoy in China and, in 1882/1883, concluded a trade- and amicability-treaty with Korea, where he intensely studied the culture and history of East Asia. Due to his detailed knowledge of Asia, his impressing personality as well as his pleasantness, von Brandt was highly esteemed in Beijing, where he became doyen of the diplomatic corps for many years.

United States and Holland. Among the Japanese were Prince Sanjo, the Prime Minister Sawa and Terashima, Ministers of Foreign Affairs; and eight members of the Imperial Council. Some extracts from the report of the proceedings will show the position assumed by each party in the controversy:

Prince Sanjō Sanetomi (三条 実美?, 13 March 1837–28 February 1891) was an Imperial court noble and statesman at the time of the Meiji Restoration. He held many high-ranking offices in the Meiji government.

Sanjo. “Since last year the Government has had a full opportunity of discovering and understanding the character of the Japanese people who profess Christianity, and it has learned that they have become troublesome, and if allowed to proceed unchecked will subvert all governmental authority interfere with trade, and seriously affect the relations of the Government with foreign nations. This Government does not move these people on account of their religious professions, but on account of their having been for a long time ungovernable and insubordinate, and on this account the Government has determined to change their residence. The Government heretofore removed some of them and has treated them with kindness, and those now being removed are being treated in the same manner, and consequently we do not think that we have destroyed or violated the promises made by this Government last year to the foreign representatives. This Government in allotting to these people new residences, has not been persecuting them…”
Parkes. “…My own judgment of this, and I am sure it will be of my Government, is that this was a most cruel proceeding, the only reason assigned being that these people professed the Christian religion, and that is the religion of my countrymen. Such an act when known in England will produce a bad effect and be looked upon as a most unfriendly act…If a few of these people commit wrongs, punish them;  but to visit this punishment on families and on thousands is contrary to our view of right…”
Outrey “In my opinion there is a misunderstanding about a word. You said you would act ‘mildly’ towards native Christians. I suppose the greatest punishment you consider you could inflict is death, and I suppose what you mean by ‘mild treatment’ is that you will not kill. This is not our understanding of ‘mild treatment’. In our country it is regarded that a man taken from his family and banished is most cruelly treated.

On October 7, 1863, Roches was nominated Consul General of France in Edo, Japan. His great rival was Harry Parkes. The French government took the side of the Tokugawa Bakufu and thus was not very popular in Japan after the Meiji Restoration. Roches was an advocate of the use of strength against the anti-foreign adversaries of the Shogunate. He fully supported the 1864 allied Bombardment of Shimonoseki. Roches also helped the Shogunate modernize. He arranged for an "Ecole Franco-Japonaise" to be established, and organized the building of the Yokosuka arsenal. In 1866, he wrote to the French Minister Drouyn de Lhuys: "The character of the Japanese essentially distinguishes them from other oriental people... We must act towards them with goodwill and dignity, critically but with justice; we can often appeal to their sentiment of honour and to the pride found among all of them, even among the lowest classes... They are gay, lively and communicative; they are disposed towards us as well as to other foreigners; whatever will be the material development of English power in this country, they run to us alone for reforms" —Léon Roches, 1866 letter to French Minister Drouyn de Lhuys.

Iwakura Tomomi (岩倉具視?, October 26, 1825 - July 20, 1883) was a Japanese statesman who played an important role in the Meiji Restoration, influencing opinions of the Imperial Court. The former 500 Yen banknote issued by the Bank of Japan carried his portrait.

Iwakura. “There is a misunderstanding. We consider that we have acted mildly and as we promised. These persons recently deported have had their families sent with them, and this cannot be called sever punishment. They have lands assigned them and an opportunity given them to make a living as they had before. Heretofore the punishment for this offense was crucifixion. This we had moderated at the request of the foreign representatives, but you know that in Japan, where all people believe in one religion, a sudden change or the sudden introduction of a new religion would produce great and constant political disturbances. Our object now is to converse on this subject. If in the future we understand and believe it to be necessary we will still execute this order. If  it was only for those people at Urakami believing in Christianity, this government would never have thought of moving them. Whether it is on account of their religious belief or because bad persons seek refuge there, we do not know; but trouble ensues and the only way we know of correcteing it is dividing them up and sending them away. This is done solely on account of their acts of insubordination.

Outrey ” This is not in accordance with the letter you wrote us. I will ask  what are those things in which they are disobedient ?  is it because they profess Christianity or not?”

Sawa. I was myself for a long time Governor of Nagasaki and I know all about these people. What I know say is that it is not owing to the influence of missionaries that criminals from neighboring daimyos’  clans take refuge in these Christian villages and are there received; they then profess Christianity, are baptized etc., and when the Government  officers seek to apprehend them, collisions ensue between these Christians and the forces sent to apprehend them, while in fact, these men are robbers”.

Outrey. “I wonder that you have the power to punish a whole village and not a few persons in it. There is contradiction here”.

Sawa.  “I did not mean to say that we could not arrest them, but that the whole people of the village would resist our officers, pretending that the man was being arrested on account of his religious faith when really it was for some crime he had committed”.

Terashima.  “ The village among themselves are extremely hostile toward those in the same village not of the same religious faith; that is, among our people it is quite unusual for one to help another in necessity by making little loans of salt or provisions. When asked such favors these Christians would not grant them unless the others would profess Christianity; and many have thus been starved or driven into professing Christianity. There conduct has been constantly overbearing. They have not come to open hostilities, but they have pursued a system of vexation and intimidation so oppressive that it has led many to leave…”

Sawa.  “The upshot of this matter is that we do not move these people on account of there profession of the christen faith, but on account of their actions, and this Government would have pursued the same course with any other people; and unless we do this we do not know how we will govern them”.

Outrey. “How many people”?

Sawa. “About five thousand”.

Outrey. “How many Christians?”

Sawa . “About three thousand”.

Outrey. “Three thousand are troubling two thousand, and you remove the three thousand?”

Sawa. “Yes.”

Outrey. “I thought there was four thousand according to the decree.”

Sawa “This includes native Christians in neighboring villages”.

De Long. “Has this decree of deportation which was published last year been repealed or amended”?

Sawa. “It was left in abeyance for a while on account of our international troubles. It has not been replaced or amended.”

Terashima. We were prevented from carrying it out also on account of the expenses we should have had to incur, these Christians not being treated as criminals but they were provided with houses and lands, besides there number being very large. We have hopped the respite given them would induce them to amend there ways. In this we were mistaken”.

De Long . “Then the decree being enforced is the original decree?”

Sawa.  “Yes, but in a milder form; and we shall explain the difference to you”.

Terashima “Formerly only the men were to be deported; now they are not separated from their families, and they will even be furnished with lands and houses”.

Iwakura . “If this Government has prohibited the Christian religion in Japan, it is not because it is opposed to it, but because we foresee great troubles to ensue from it, as, for instance, if one man in a hundred becomes converted to that faith it would lead to a splitting up and dividing of the people. Formally the Laws against this were very strict; now they are three or four degrees milder then formerly but we cannot allow it to be professed generally”.

Von Brandt. “We do not ask you to allow the free exercises of it, but we do ask that men who do profess it shall not be punished for professing it; in this there is a great distinction. I ask no change of Laws, but simply to allow those who profess Christianity to remain without being tortured for their faith”.

Iwakura. “You must consider the motives of our Government, as for instance, the native Christians formerly sent from this village to Choshu are all to be returned now as they have recanted their professing of Christianity”.

Outrey. “This is a contradiction. This proves that it was because they professed Christianity that they were punished, as now that they have recanted there punishment ceases. If all would now publically recant their professions of Christianity, would they all be allowed to remain?”

Iwakura. “Yes ;if they follow the religion of their Emperor and obey the authority of the Government, no reason for there punishment exists

Terashima. ” If I said this was being done on account of the religion of these men, it was true in only one sense; but the main reason is that in consequence of there professing the Christian religion they despise their own. According to the Shinto religion, the Mikado is the direct descendent of the gods. Thus he rules by divine right on account of his divine origin. Christianity teaches our people to despise and disbelieve this feature of our faith, and thus it brings this scared thing into contempt. for instance these Christians instead of going to the Shinto temple in Urakami scared to the Mikado and worshiping, they refuses to do it and thus treat the Mikado contemptuously and lead others to show disrespect to him.”

Outrey. “How comes it if this be the reason of your opposition to Christianity, that you do not punish the Buddhists? The Mikado is the Chief of the Shinto faith, and he cannot be the chief of more than one religion.”

Terashima. “ The Buddhists show there respect to the Shinto faith by agreeing to this principle”.

Outrey. “ Yes but they have their own temples and priests. Do they compel them to go to the Shinto temples and pay their respect?

Iwakura.  “In Japan weather Buddhist or not , they have respect for and adore Tensho Daijin the ancestor of the Mikado ,as such, but Christians do not. They insult and ridicule her, and of course thereby insult and ridicule the Mikado.”

Von Brandt. “ How do they insult her?”

Terashima. “In Urakami, at the temple of Tensho Daijin, they have a particular gate scared to the Mikados ancestor. These Christians never will go through this gate but go around it, and thus show all the people how they despise the goddess, and teach others to despise her also. Then in all Shinto houses the people have idols, family gods, and also scared writings; they insult these idols and put the scared writings in indecent and fifthly places to show the people how much they despise them. There is a place there called Shibakaru, with several little red gates, and inside the grass grows which people gather, and they will throw this grass through the gates and go around after it instead of going through it. This action itself may be small but the feeling exhibited is great and shows disrespect to the Mikado and his ancestor. This systems of government here and in Europe, you must bear in mind, are different. There the people have more of less to do with the government; here they have nothing to do with it; and to maintain this government it is absolutely necessary for us to compel all the people to believe in the divine origin of the Mikado , and respect and reverence him and his ancestors”.

After consulting together the foreign representatives declared their belief that people were being persecuted on account of there religion, and urged that such proceedings should be discontinued. The Japanese officials continued to insist that, as expressed by Iwakura, if Christianity were permitted, “the Government cannot be carried on, because the Government is based on the Shinto religion”. They also complained as follows of the actions of the missionaries:

Terashima. In referring the religious questions to the treaties, it will be seen that the engagements are mutual; that  foreigners in Japan can have there own places of worship and practice their own religion, and that neither foreigner nor Japanese shall disturb the other . This at lest is the spirit of the treaty. Now although we have given foreigners there own place of worship and have never interfered with them, we have found out that the missionaries have established a place of worship at Urakami, not within the limits of the foreign settlements, where they go out at night and preach their faith”.

Outrey “ They must not have this; it is the first I have heard of it”.

Terashima.  “Although it is not ,perhaps according to the letter of the treaty that foreign places of worship should not be attended by Japanese, we consider the foreigners have no right to go outside the settlement propagating there faith as they are doing. It appears to this Government that these missionaries have also led these people so to act as to implicate them seriously. That they have promised them assistance if troubled by our Government is evidenced by the fact that when we attempt to control them they always rush to these priests and complain to them. That we ought sooner to have come forward with our complaints against these priests we admit and we are very sorry that we have not done it; but thinking that the shortest  way would be to deal with our own subjects, we have let the matter go on. Now we regret this for if we had sooner complained, it would have resulted in only ten or a hundred persons being moved”.

Outrey. “I regret that you have never informed us of this; but I wish to say that this persecution commenced four years ago, and this shows that the more they are persecuted, the more they will increase. We know that at a place in the interior where there were no priests, you have had to persecute these people for Christianity; and this we know from your official newspaper”.

Terashima. “That is true; but there are Japanese who are preaching Christianity”.

Outrey. “Do you not know that in the time of the Tycoon [Shogun] your Government suddenly heard of four or five thousand native Christians? Were they not Christians from their fathers ? And dose this not prove that the more you persecute, the more Christians there will be”?

Terashima. “ It is possible that those were people who were Christians  before this; if so they kept it still. The government was not going so far as to try and find out the sentiments of a man’s heart and punish him for them; but these men are seditious and we cannot tolerate them. We will not say the missionaries advise this; but the people do deify the Government. The officers from Nagasaki inform us that they have turned one of the ten temples into a place of worship, and there the people assemble and await the missionaries who come in the night and perform religious worship.”

Outrey. “Destroy the houses there and stop it if it is not within the treaty limits”.

Terashima. These missionaries employ two sworded men who are outcasts, as sub instructors who go about teaching and it is owing to these that Christianity is propagating inland..Now the reason we move these people these people is to take them from under the influence of the missionaries. To say the truth, Urakami and other such villages have become the asylum of outcasts ,and there they congregate and claim that they are under the protection of foreign powers I know well these people have been led to believe so”.

Outrey We certainly have never any of us or our consuls given them any such assurances, and we have never heard of this before. We trust you will reconsider your actions, because it will cause great feeling in Europe and America and may lead to serous results. We ask postponement and due reflection”.

Iwakura. “ I can only repeat that we desire friendly relations, but we must be allowed to govern our own people. We thank you for your evidences of friendliness and we will send orders to postpone further actions pending this conference, and on this Conference it will depend whether we go further or not. We have spoken of the wrongs of the missionaries, which you ministers cannot defend; and we hope it is in the power of you ministers to control these missionaries.”

Outrey. “We will do what we can do to make our people in all cases do right.”

De Long. “ I state unhesitatingly that when any complaint is made to me of a wrong done by an American citizen, I shall always be as ready and willing to restrain or punish him as I am prompt to demand redress for my countrymen from this Government when I consider them aggrieved”*.

Two days after this conference the minister of foreign affairs sent to the foreign representatives the following report that had been made to them January 9, 1870,by the officials in Nagasaki:

“ We beg to report that up to yesterday we continued sending off the native Christians to various provinces as set forth in the accompanying paper, taking good care, in conformity with the instructions received, to treat them kindly and tendering them advice Heads of families were provided with money, and the sick who applied for relief were sent into hospital. The old and infirm were furnished with sedan chairs in places were the road was rough, and sandals for travelers were given to all. Families were not separated in accordance with your instructions, but some were sent to different places at there own request. We allowed them to take whatever they required of their own goods, and such as was left behind were placed in strong warehouses to await your further orders as to its disposal. As it was exceedingly cold and snow falling at the time, we furnished all with sake to use on the road as and when they pleased. Strict orders were given by us to those officers who accompanied them to provide whatever could contribute to their comfort. It was clearly explained to them that all reasonable wants they may have shall be duly supplied in the provinces whither they are sent, and they all left cheerfully and in good spirits.”

As will be seen the Japanese constantly asserted that there was no cruelty but in after years one of the officials related the following incidents. It is not stated with which of the successive banishments they were connected:

“Men and Woman were bound and passed from hand to hand  across the gangplank of the boat which waited to carry them, handled and counted and shipped like bales of merchandise. One woman, thrown amiss, fell into water, and her hand waved farewell in the sign of the cross as she sank never to rise again. The other concerned a woman too, a mother with an infant at her breast. The officials determined to force her to recant and failed. At last they took her infant, placed it just beyond her reach, and there let it wail its hungry cry two days and nights, with promises all the time of full forgiveness to the mother and restitution of her babe, if only she would recant. Recant she would not, and at last her torturers gave in, there cruel integrity exhausted.

January 28 the Ministers of Foreign Affairs presented the following memorandum, which may be taken as the official statement of the Japanese’s side of the controversy:

“They {the Japanese ministers} understand the foreign ministers are dissatisfied with the measures taken by the Japanese Government relative to the native Christians.”

Appreciating friendly intercourse and the respect of the treaty powers for Japan, they have deemed it their duty to explain their motives for these measures; that the inhabitants of the village of Urakami are wrong in worshiping in a foreign religion is large of Urakami are wrong in worshiping a foreign religion is not the question, but as co _religionists they formed a party and thwarted the authorities. The Government would not treat these people severely simply because of there worship. The Government never inquire what religious opinions people inwardly profess and as long as long as they infringe no laws or offer no resistance. though there may be many who profess foreign religions, they will not be interfered with. And hence since the conclusion of treaties with foreign countries, has the Government abolished the law of fumi_e {trampling on Christians emblems} which was established for the purpose of inspecting peoples hearts. “The Government have engaged in there schools to teach languages etc., those who come here as missionaries and have permitted any one to translate and sell publicly all sorts of books, even such as relate to religions. This proves the Government intends to change the law respecting religion; but when the people commit wrongs and misdemeanors, infringe the laws of the country, or resist the power of the Government on the plea of being Christians’, or when they are told by missionaries that they will not be punished, as foreigners will protect them, then the Government must step in as such things cannot be permitted. Advice must then be given to such people and they must be brought back to submission to the laws of the country.

l  Quoted by Dr.G.W.Knox in New York Independent June 21,1894.

“The Government carries out the treaty in allowing foreigners to worship their own religions and build churches in Japan; but they were dissatisfied with foreign priests who induce the people to worship them. They use soft speech and science, or give money to those who worship there religion, telling them that foreigners would aid them, and the people consequently become so outrageous as to insult the authorities, and this must be remedied. On investigation, it has invariably been found that these so-called native Christians are only so in name; there acts, however, are such as would undoubtedly be punished in all other countries. They conceal among themselves all sorts of criminals whom the Government wants to have arrested; they always disputed with others and cause disturbances; insulted our accent religion, destroyed images of the gods and defile the gods from whom his majesty the Mikado is descended. If these people were left alone they would cause great trouble, the government might be weakened and the country endangered. It would have been quite proper to punish these people severely; but as it was promised in January,1869 by Higashi Kuse to the foreign ministers that they would thereafter be treated leniently, the Government had no other means in dealing with the matter then to remove these people to other places and thus cut off their communication with priests, whose desire of converting them may not be bad, but unfortunately the Japanese misapprehended the matter and insulted the authorizes. The Government removed them in the manner as promised to the foreign ministers. No severe treatment was inflicted, but all necessary aid was rendered. This the Government is prepared to prove.

“The Japanese Government will not be obliged to resort to such measures as the unpleasant one referred to, if foreign missionaries would exclusively apply themselves to the teaching of their own people according to the treaty, instead of acting improperly as hitherto. Then the Japanese Government may not be obliged to cut off the communication of those of their people who seek information on religious subjects with the missionaries, and may further have no objection to send back to there village those who have moved out of it.

“The Japanese Government are desirous that there people be instructed in arts and sciences, in which your country is superior, instead of being instructed in religion , and they are above all, desirous that the existing friendship between our countries may increase more and more.”*

A week later the foreign representatives presented the following memorandum:

“ The Japanese Government having declared that the action of some foreign missionaries in preaching outside the limits of the foreign settlement has caused serious disturbances and one of the reasons for which the Government thinks the removal of the native Christians from the neighborhood of Nagasaki is a political necessity, the foreign representatives do not hesitate to declare that they, on their part will do everything within there power to restrain the foreign missionaries from such acts, and will punish them therefore if such acts be persisted in; provided, that the native Christians who have been deported from Urakami are brought back”.

The Urakami Cathedral, one of Nagasaki's prominent landmarks, stands on a hill amid the rubble of a residential district east of ground zero.


  1. don’t have one, why?

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