Against all odds, Mormons in Japan soldier on
News On Japan via Japan Times -- Oct 23
The Mormon story in Japan begins only some 30 years after Smith's original revelation, when, after failing to find converts in China due to bad publicity, a lack of funds and a civil war, the Mormons took advantage of a serendipitous opportunity to gain inroads in another part of Asia.
Seventeen years after U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry forcibly thrust Japan into the modern age in 1854, the "Iwakura Mission" of diplomats traveled from Yokohama to the U.S. on the first leg of an around-the-world trip to pick up tips on how to modernize Japan. When their overland journey from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., was halted in Utah by heavy snow, Mormons opened their doors and hearts to the strangers. The Mormons were impressed, calling the Japanese delegates "highly cultured and well-mannered in every way."
The church had grown to about 100 members in Japan by World War II, when all foreign missionaries were sent home. While the Japanese faithful did not have to face the ordeal of stepping on an image of Christ on pain of death, like Nagasaki Christians of the 17th century, they were well-advised to take their prayers underground.
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