What are Japanese?
Before WWII, there was one country in the world that had a popular election system where males 25 years old or more living inside its mainland had a voting right, could manufacture the world largest worships and 10,000 fighter planes of the world class, and had even started nuclear physical study with cyclotrons. But the country was in Asia without being ruled by western colonialists. What was the country, China or India?
Before WWII, China was in a large-scale civil war without modern government and industrial bases. They imported weapons from Europe, Russia, and America. India was colonized by the UK.
It was Japan. This non-European and non-Christian country could carry out modernization of the society, establish modern government, and realize its industrial revolution. Till 1860s, Japan was ruled by the samurai class whose symbol was the sword. Samurais closed the country since the early 17th century except minor trade with China and the Netherlands. But after a regime change among the samurai class through a civil war in 1860s, the winning samurai camp set up the emperor as the modern monarch of new Japan while abolishing old custom of the society, which is called the Meiji Restoration, since the era was called Meiji and thus the emperor was called the Meiji Emperor.
In this context, Japan was the only non-European nation that could successfully adopt and apply western culture, science, and technologies. But a vast majority of Japanese didn't accept Christianity.
So, before WWII, there was only one Asian nation that had modern industry and political system with the military power that could be ranked within top five nations in the world. It is Japan. However, this country did not become a Christian country. Therefore, Japan proved that Asian people did not need to accept Christianity to establish a modern and westernized nation. In this context Japan is unique.
Following Japanese success, Chinese, Koreans, South East Asians, and even Hindus, Muslims, and South Asia Buddhists started to get independent from western powers to become modern nations.
Even today, Christians in Japan account for only a few percent of its people.
But how do Japanese regard Christianity and Christians?
Japanese think that whether one is a Christian or not, he is the same human being as others, namely mostly Buddhists and Shintoists. If Christians believe only one God, his mind set and ethic are similar to others. But, it does not mean that non-Christian Japanese deny the one and sole God who created the whole universe.
Most of Japanese or most of non-Christian Japanese think that the whole universe might have been created by the one and sole God. But, they think it doesn't change anything in their daily lives if they believe anew such God or continue to believe other Buddhist and Shinto deities. If there is Heaven for Christians, there must be paradises for Buddhists and Shintoists. And the story the Bible tells looks too remote for Japanese due to a big difference in environment.
Japanese have never felt necessity to rely on Christian creeds and tenets. Their peace of mind can be obtained through their spiritual mind work supported by Buddhism and Shintoism. In this world and in the world to come for them, Japanese find no need to become believers of Christ Jesus, since their traditional spiritual culture is sufficiently deep and rich.
But Japanese don't doubt Christians about their sincerity in pursuing spiritual truth. They appreciate the splendor of the European culture and art cultivated by Christian traditions. Sometimes they are really enchanted with the Western Christian culture. So, actually there are many Japanese artists, scientists, scholars, etc. who have become part of globalized Western culture.
Nonetheless. among Asians Japanese are the people who are the most remote from Christianity. It is very ironical. And, most of Japanese are indifferent with the principle of Christianity. They can rationally understand it through western culture and art. But, it is true that 95% of Japanese are totally indifferent with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Western nations, including the US, etc., had found a very exceptional nation in Asia before WWII, which is Japan. And after WWII, other Asian nations, including China and India, are following the industrial success of Japan. Yet, Japan is unique in that it is an Asian nation that does not understand Christianity (and Judaism or Islam) the most in Asia.
Accordingly, most of Japanese cannot explain what they are. Because there has been no need to explain what he or she is among Japanese in Japan for more than 2000 years of its history as a nation. Japanese have no custom to explain what they are in a manner that Europeans and other Asians would do. If you can understand God, you can explain what you are even in the case that you deny God. You have to stand before God alone and you have to explain what you are to God. But Japanese cannot even dream such a situation. "We are as we are, which should be understood by others without using words." This is a Japanese tradition.
But, of course, nothing is unique before God. God must be familiar with Japanese. So, Japanese don't have to explain what they are to God, in my opinion. Japanese are forever Japanese, if they believe God like other Christians in Europe, America, Africa or Asia.
Prince Hirohito and his wife, Princess Nagako, in 1924
(Later Emperor of Showa who led the Enpire of Japan in WWII)
Anyway, you will never be asked in Japan: Are you a Christian, a Judaist, a Muslim, a Hindu, or Buddhist? Japanese understand you are a human being, the same as a Japanese, if you have any percentage of Neanderthal DNA.
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Mar 4:23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.