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TitleChristianity in the Japanese Empire: Nationalism, Conscience, and Faith in Meiji and Taisho Japan
AuthorAnderson, Emily
UniversityU.C. Los Angeles
Thesis typePh.D
Number of pages450
AbstractThis dissertation explores the relationship between Christianity and the rise of
the Japanese empire, especially from the 1880s to the 1930s. A preoccupation with the
empire, and the relationship between Japan and Asia, deeply informed how Japanese
Christians—both those who supported and opposed imperialism—formulated
specifically Japanese forms of Christianity in Meiji and Taisho Japan. Existing Western
scholarship on Japanese Christianity has tended to emphasize the relationship between
Japanese converts and the missionaries who converted them. These works often limit
their study of Japanese Christians to their role in debates on issues narrowly defined as
domestic concerns. Such studies do not engage with the degree to which the question of
empire permeated every level of Japanese social, intellectual, and cultural life.
Given the diversity of experiences, activities, and beliefs among Japanese
Christians, my aim is not to write a comprehensive history of Japanese Christianity in
this period; instead, I focus on members of one denomination, the Nihon Kumiai
Kirisuto Kyokai, or Japanese Congregational Church, because this denomination's
decentralized administrative structure resulted in a wider range of theological positions
and approaches to ministry than that of the other mainline Protestant denominations. By
conducting a close reading of Japanese Christian theological arguments and social
critique, I hope to expand on the understanding of how some Japanese Christians
developed and adapted Christianity in a way that reconciled Christian belief with newly
constructed notions of Japanese identity and empire, as well as how others developed
theologically based critiques of imperialism and militarism.
My dissertation explores the intersection of Japanese Protestantism and
imperialism in three distinct settings. The first, which focuses on the urban church,
includes a study of important debates among Japanese Protestants such as how (and
perhaps whether or not) Christians could demonstrate their loyalty to the Japanese state,
and different ways that church leaders and their congregations responded to significant
social and political events, such as Japan's entry into war with Russia. The second
section, on the colonies, addresses the Kumiai Kyokai's fascination with Korea—
culminating in a ten-year long attempt to establish a mission there following Japan's
colonization of Korea in 1910—and the extension of this mission into Manchuria and
Shanghai in the 1920s following anti-Japanese protests in Korea and China in 1919. The
final section, on the rural church, focuses on the Annaka church in Gunma Prefecture,
one of the oldest Kumiai Kyokai churches, and its minister Kashiwagi Gien, to consider
the impact of imperialism on Japan's countryside, and how Kashiwagi's experiences as
a rural minister informed his unusual critique of the state and imperial expansion.
Keywords (en)Japan;Christianity;nationalism;education;church;travel;Korean;faith;Shanghai;Fengtian;Gunma;state
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