Japan, East Asia
Political Leader: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Predominant Religions: Buddhism 69.6%, New Religions 24.4%, Christianity 1.6%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 10
Acts of Terrorism: 85; Casualties: 19
Percent of Corruption: 24%
% of People in Poverty: Not Ranked
In all aspects – racially, ethnically, culturally – the Japanese comprise one of the most homogenous people groups in the world. Migrant groups such as the Brazilian Japanese have a difficult time fitting into the Japanese culture which prides itself on respecting that which is traditional and time-honored. Many of the Japanese are obsessed with careers and materialistic pleasures. Children are pressured to perform well, and failure is treated as shameful to the family.
Shintoism, the native religion of Japan, is rooted in animism and is polytheistic. In the sixth century, Buddhism was added to Japanese culture, and today most Japanese claim both sets of beliefs. These traditions, combined with those of Confucianism and Taoism, contribute to the most widely accepted religious principles in Japan: ancestor worship; religious practices centered on the use of prayer meditation; amulets and purification; close ties between religion, family, and nation; and a free exchange of ideas among religious systems.
Japan’s suicide rate is one of the highest of all industrialized nations, topping over 30,000 every year since 1998. Japan's ancient Samurai culture and Buddhist traditions make this practice an acceptable and even honorable way to alleviate shame that may have been brought to the family. When a cabinet minister hung himself hours before facing a bribery probe, Tokyo's governor praised the action, calling the dead man a real samurai.
Japan has a history of “honorable suicide.” Samurai warriors would often kill themselves to avoid shame. In World War II, young men – kamikaze – would deliberately fly bomb-laden planes into Allied ships. Buddhist tradition does not encourage suicide, nor does it condemn the act – in effect making it religiously acceptable.
- Pray that God will reveal His grace and mercy to the Japanese. In God, there is no condemnation. He loves and accepts us just as we are.
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of the Japanese toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, casting aside their ancient traditions for the Truth that is Jesus.
- Pray authoritatively over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Japanese people bound in a dense darkness of fear and shame. Pray for the Light of Jesus Christ to fill the land!
- Pray that God will call teams of prayer warriors to undergird the Christian Church in Japan as it ministers to those who desperately need the freedom of Christ Jesus.
- Pray that the Japanese will see that the most important treasures are not on earth but stored in Heaven.
- Pray that God will display His awesome power with signs and miracles to woo and win the hearts of the Japanese. Pray that He will reveal Himself supernaturally so that their eyes will be opened to His glory.
Sources: Christian Broadcasting Network, Bethany World Prayer Center’s Global 12 Project, The World Factbook