The Protestant Missions — November 1, 2011 at 12:48 am

The old questions concerning the possibility of Christians being loyal to the Emperor.


Several events occurring in 1897 brought up the old questions concerning the possibility of Christians being loyal to the Emperor. Some of them gave rise to considerable discussion in the newspapers. A student was expelled from the Normal School in Yamaguchi because of a criticism he was said to have made upon the Imperial Rescript. The persecution was began by his fellow-students, who presented the following charges against him:

“I. He says that God is superior to His Majesty the Emperor.

“2. He tries to change the Imperial Rescript so as to make it accord with his own beliefs.

“3. He reads the Bible more than his text-books.

“4. He said that after his conversion to Christianity he became more desirous than before to enter the Normal School.

“5. He talked to Sunday school children in the summer vacation.

“6. He said that he was under great responsibility to lead others to the true religion.”

More attention was drawn to a case occurring in the Normal School of Niigata. Every year two of its graduates were sent to the High Normal School in Tokyo. Nominally the choice of the persons to be sent rested with the prefectural Governor, who was supposed to base the appointment upon the examination papers of candidates; but in reality the principal of the school decided the matter. The graduate that passed the best examination in 1897 was a Christian. The principal refused to appoint him, giving as a reason that Christianity was contrary to the Imperial Rescript, and hence, one holding that religion ought not to receive the honour in question. Several members of the faculty protested against the decision. The discussion soon found its way into the newspapers of Niigata one upholding the principal, while two condemned his action. The press in other parts of the country also published articles upon the matter. Finally, at a meeting held in the school, the Governor made an address in which he rebuked the principal and declared that there was nothing antagonistic between Christianity and the Rescript. He said that, since the Constitution guaranteed religious liberty, a man’s belief should not affect his promotion, which ought to be based on ability alone. The principal’s appointee had already begun his studies in Tokyo, so it seemed to the Governor that it would be unwise to recall him ; but he gave assurance that the Christian could have the appointment the next year, and at once promoted him to a much better school than the one in which he had begun to teach,

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