Saturday, August 27, 2016

"and he was restored" - 200-Year Long National Isolation of Japan

Around Tokyo

200-Year Long  National Isolation of Japan

The most remarkable incident in the Japanese history is that Japan closed the door to most of foreign countries from 1639 to 1854 during the Edo era when Japan was governed by the shogun, the head of the samurai class, whose castle was in Edo (Tokyo).

During this period of the national isolation, the samurai government allowed only China and the Netherlands to trade with Japanese merchants at Nagasaki in Kyusyu, the westernmost major island of Japan, while the shogun accepted a diplomatic mission form the Kingdom of Korea once in a few decades.   And, under this policy of the national isolation, no Japanese were allowed to leave the nation, and no foreigners were allowed to enter Japan.

It means that while Europeans were busy conquering the world and America was rapidly developing, Japan was almost separated from the global trend.  Incidentally, China was promoting trade with European nations in this period, which however resulted in the tragic Opium War in the middle of the 19th century.

One of the reasons for the shogun, who was from the Tokugawa clan, to adopt this national isolation is to stop Christianity from spreading in Japan, making Japanese people disobedient to shogun authority.  Another reason is that the shogun was afraid that local feudal samurai lords might strengthen economy of their territory and come to have power to compete with the Tokugawa clan.

Christian missionaries who came to Japan between the middle of the 16th century to the early 17th century were all Catholics.  Farmers, townsmen, and even samurais edified by Europeans missionaries looked like having more loyalty to the Vatican and God than the ruler of Japan, the shogun.   So, the shogun and other top samurais were afraid that Japanese Christians might touch off the revolt.  And actually, there occurred a large scale revolt in Shimabara, Kyusyu, in 1837 where about 40,000 farmers led by Christian leaders fought against local samurai lords.  To suppress this revolt, the shogun had to send generals from Edo (Tokyo) and mobilize more than 100,000 samurai troops.  The shogun and samurai leaders found extremely strong religious power in those insurgents.

So, Portugal ships were forbidden having access to Japan in 1839, though the diplomatic tie with Spain had been already cut in 1624.  But, the Protestant nation, the Netherlands, which supported the shogun troops in the Shimabara Revolt, was allowed to barter with Japan, though only at one port of Nagasaki.

It is also said that at the time many poor Japanese women were sold to Spanish or Portuguese missionaries who further resold them to Western colonialists in Asia, etc.   The shogun government tried to stop this human trafficking and decided to prevent Spanish and Portuguese missionaries and merchants from  having access to Japan.

However, when the U.S. Government sent a mighty fleet to Edo (Tokyo) Bay, requesting the samurai government of Japan to open the nation in 1850s, this isolation policy was abandoned.  But, it led to derogation of the shogun authority, a subsequent civil war, and the fall of the samurai regime in 1868.

Consequently, the samurai camp that defeated shogun's forces established a new government with the emperor at its center, which is called the Meiji Restoration.  Then, modernization and Westernization of Japan started along with acceptance of Christianity that however took some time.

This 200-year long national isolation influenced national characteristics of the Japanese people.  Even today, for example, Christians or church goers account for only 1.5% of the total population of 120 million.    

But ironically, many of ex-samurais who had belonged to the Tokugawa clan turned to Christians after the Meiji Restoration.  They needed new spiritual support to live in the new society where ex-anti-Tokugawa samurais occupied dominant positions in the Meiji Government.   It is estimated that not a few today's Japanese Christians have ancestors who were ex-samurais on the Tokugawa side.

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Mar 8:25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.
Mar 8:26 And he sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

"Where is your faith?" - Unique Empress Jingu of Japan


Unique Empress Jingu of Japan 

There is one unique empress in the Japanese history.   Empress Jingu is the wife of the 14th Emperor Chuai who is thought to be one of imaginary Emperors depicted in the old history book Nihon Shoki.

The Nihon Shoki (The Chronicle of Japan) was  completed in 720 as an official history book of the imperial court.  It contains not only imaginary emperors in early periods of the history of the imperial court but also myths that link the imperial family to gods.

Accordingly, the 14th Emperor Chuai is thought to be one of imaginary emperors the authors of the Nihon Shoki created to make the imperial court appear to have a long history.  But, there is still arguments as to whether or not Empress Jingu really existed in an early period of the imperial court history.

Specifically before the end of WWII, children in Japan were taught that Empress Jingu really existed and she led troops to conquer the Korean Peninsula, though her husband Emperor Chuai died of a diseases in Kyosyu while preparing for invasion of Korea.

Japanese nationalists after the Meiji Restoration of the imperial authority in 1868, when the last samurai regime fell, respected the Nihon Shoki as a kind of sacred book, since it is the only remaining imperial history book written when the imperial court had been in the Yamato area (presently Nara Prefecture) before moving to Kyoto in 794.  And, they believed historical existence of Empress Jingu and thus her conquest of Korea.

It is said that this notion of Empress Jingu and the conquest of Korea by her became an underlying motivation of the annexation of the Kingdom of Korean into the Empire of Japan in 1910, though there must have been more realistic reasons for the annexation such as precaution against and prevention of annexation of Korea by China or Russia.

Empress Jingu is treated respectfully in the Nihon Shoki that allocates one independent volume to her, though it is only emperors that are given independent volumes in the Nihon Shoki.  Empress Jingu is literally in a class of herself.   There are no other empresses depicted so much as Empress Jingu in the Nihon Shoki.  So, there must be specific reasons.

The key is found in the Nihon Shoki itself.   It has an annotation in the volume allocated to Empress Jingu that an ancient Chinese imperial court mistook Empress Jingu as the queen of Yamatai in its history book.

Yamatai is an ancient Japanese territory where queen Himiko lived, according to the Chinese history book called the Book of Wei written in the sixth century.   The Book of Wei told that Japanese queen Himiko asked diplomatic and military support of the emperor of the Northern Wei of China in the third century.  Himiko sent a mission to the Nothern Wei, and the Chinese emperor replied to her with many gifts such as bronze mirrors.   Since Yamatai where queen Himiko lived looks like a Chinese expression at the time of Yamato, where the Japanese imperial court had been situated, it is natural to regard Himiko as one of ancestors of the Japanese imperial family.  But the authors of the Nihon Shoki did not take this supposition.  Instead, they wrote about Empress Jingu with the interesting annotation in the Nihon Shoki.

So, the description of Empress Jingu in the history book Nihon Shoki about the early Japanese imperial court shows the strong will of the Japanese imperial court in the early eighth century that Japan had never been subject to China (like Himiko as reported in the Book of Wei),  and Japan had once conquered Korea (though the Japanese imperial court had had a strong tie with one of Korean kingdoms before the eighth century that had lost a war against a coalition of China and another Korean kingdom to disappear from history while Japan had militarily supported the kingdom).

That is why Japanese nationalists who respect the imperial court and the Nihon Shoki never respect China and Korea even today, without mentioning Japanese nationalists before the end of WWII.

Interestingly, before the Meiji Restoration in 1868, when modernization and Westernization of Japan started, Empress Jingu had been regarded as one of female emperors who had been set up in some rare cases in the history of the imperial court.  But, in 1926, Jingu was officially excluded from past emperors to be positioned as empress, though very unique as depicted in the Nihon Shoki.

Incidentally, the kanji letter used for Jin of Jingu means a god and that for gu of Jingu means fame.   And, any other emperors with names where the kanji character meaning a god is used are highly regraded emperors such as Emperor Jinmu, the first emperor of Japan according to the Nihon Shoki.  

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Luk 8:25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.

"ye shall die in your sins" - Land Temperature vs Sea Temperature in Global Warming

Pacific Ocean coast southwest of Tokyo 

Land Temperature vs Sea Temperature in Global Warming

The land temperature of the earth has not been increasing at such a fast rate in these years as it had been till 2005 or so.

Global Temperature timeseries, with land and ocean components

But the temperature of the deep sea is increasing steadily.
 More than 90% of global warming heat goes into warming the oceans, while less than 3% goes into increasing the atmospheric and surface air temperature.  Records show that the Earth has been warming at a steady rate before and since 1998 and there is no sign of it slowing any time soon (Figure 1). 
Fig 1

And the amount of CO2 in the air is also steadily increasing:
Mauna Loa CO2

Energy the mankind has used for maintaining its civilization is eventually discharged to the air with CO2.  So, day after day and night after night, the source of global warming, the used energy with CO2, is being discharged to the air.  Human civilization is the source of the global warming.

And, now mysteriously, the temperature on the lands on the earth is not increasing as much as the temperature in deep oceans.  Most of CO2 is dissolved into the sea, while the capacity of the lands to absorb CO2 might be reaching their limit.  If the capacity of the seas for absorbing CO2 should come to their limit, what would happen?  The temperature of the air might be drastically increasing.

However,  another ice age can come to cancel out the effect of global warming.  But it must be in very unstable conditions.  The future of the mankind will be surely under threat.

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Joh 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Joh 8:25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

"I am not of this world" - The Issue for 2000 Years

Fukushima City, Japan

The Issue for 2000 Years

The issue is simple: Whether there is the after life or not.

Christ Jesus preached on the assumption or with confidence that there is an after life for every one.  Or He preached based on the notion that there are Heaven and the hell.

However, as everybody knows, one dies and his/her body is disintegrated after his/her death.  Then how can the one live an after life or go into Heaven or the hell?  And, as everybody knows, the answer is that the soul of a man leaves his body when he dies, entering the spiritual world.

(However, there are some descriptions in the Bible that the dead come to be revived with their flesh.)

So, to believe in Christ Jesus means to believe existence of the afterlife, Heaven, and the hell.  And, to believe in Christ Jesus is to believe that souls of bad men go to the hell after their death and souls of good men enter Heaven after their death.

But why cannot human beings see the spiritual world, Heaven, and the hell, while they are alive in this world?  If people could see clearly how terrible and horrible the hell is, most of them would avoid evil while they are alive.  But nobody can see Heaven and the hell while they are living in this world.

This is the most important issue for the mankind.  Only one can do is to believe the words of Christ Jesus, live honestly and avoid evil, and hope that he or she will be accepted into Heaven.  This is the rule God set for the mankind.  But why did God set it as such?  Why must this world and the other world be separated from each other?

For 2000 years after Christ Jesus came to this world, the mankind or the Vatican has been thinking about it.  But it cannot present a reasonable answer to the world.  It is time for us to concentrate on this issue.

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Joh 8:23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.

Monday, August 22, 2016

"let the dead bury their dead" - Western Societies and Islamic Societies in Parallel?

Mt. Fuji facing Typhoon these days, from around Tokyo

Western Societies and Islamic Societies in Parallel

There are many parables and teaching Christ Jesus delivered 2000 years ago.  But remarkably, most of them are still effective and meaningful.

Likewise, teachings of the Buddha and Confucius who lived 500 years earlier than Christ Jesus do not lose meanings today.  It should be also noted that the Book of Exodus that contains the commandments given through Moses was written 500 years before Christ Jesus.

And these teachings and the commandments are all related to humanity that did not change for thousands of years.  But today, this paradigm of human ethics and morals are going to change drastically.

Indeed, with advancement of the modern society and development of commercialism, people are exposed to the social trend where economy and business are given the highest priority.  Expansion of economy and business gives riches to a great majority of people who are hired by businesses or trading with them.  And, expansion of economy and business are promoted by a great majority of people who spend money to buy goods.  And to make a great number of consumers buy goods and services, businesses and industries are arousing lust in them through TV commercials, Internet advisement, etc.

In enkindling desire of consumers, those businesses and industries neglect teachings of Christ Jesus, Confucius, the Buddha, and Moses.  Modern science helps attach little importance to old religions and those teachings.

In the era of global economy, this trend of neglecting old teachings of ancient saints is being intensified especially in countries and regions under strong influence of Western culture and Western monetary/financial systems.   Not only the E.U. and the Anglo-Saxon dominant nations, but also Japan, China, India and most of non-Islamic Asian countries are being influenced by this trend.

However, Islamic nations have different conditions.  The Islamic society of each Islamic nation is still under strong rule of the religion Islam that does not allow Muslims to neglect teachings of the Koran and pursue modern commercialism.

However, there are more than 20 million Muslims living in the EU.  It means there are so many Muslims living in rotten Western societies without resistance and insurgence, though they do not abandon their religion.  If those Muslims are truly following the teaching of the Koran, they probably cannot live in rotten Europe.  Or, there might be still room in the capitalistic and commercial E.U. for Muslims to live without being critically offended.

Although Islamic nations in the Middle East do not actively adopt Western systems and culture, some other Islamic nations such as Malaysia and Indonesia are looking like accepting Western style of business though with some strong restriction on factors that can have critical influence on their Islamic societies.  These countries have not been geographically in direct contact with European powers.  Their societies also include more various types of people in culture and religion than the Middle East Islamic nations.  

Therefore, only Muslims in the Middle East Islamic countries might have reasons to stand against Western nations for religious reasons.  In this context, Islamic terrorists have gained bases and home grounds in these countries.

Such terrorists are worse than rotten Westerners or Europeans and Americans.  But, they are parallel with expansion of negligence of old teachings of saints in Western Europe and East Asia.  Or from a different viewpoint, evil force working in Europe, America, the Anglo-Saxon dominant nations, and East Asia to make peoples corrupt and degraded is working in the Middle-East Islamic nations to make some Muslims allured to use of violence and terror.  

States of rotten and degraded societies are not so easily and clearly felt.  But, states of violence and terror of countries can be easily and clearly realized.  The sate of terror in the Middle East might be indication of how rotten and degraded the Western societies are.

Put simply, we have to see how corrupt and degraded the Western countries are when we see how cruelly and madly Islamic terrorists are harming people and damaging societies in the Middle East.

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Mat 8:22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.