このシリーズでは、私が1994年に執筆した統一神学大学院(Unification Theological Seminary)の神学課程修士論文(Divinity Thesis)を日英二か国語で掲載している。





VI. Mukyokai and Japanese Society.

The Lese Majesty Incident (fukei jiken) which involved Uchimura was caused by his refusal in 1891 to bow before the Imperial signature affixed to the Imperial Rescript on Education (Kyoiku Chokugo). This led to a fierce nationwide controversy over the loyalty of Christians and to his resignation of his position as a teacher of the government academy in Tokyo. Actually Uchimura himself had no intention to blaspheme the Emperor Meiji; he just scrupulously hesitated as a Christian to pay homage to anything but God. This incident, however, became the symbolic beginning of the confrontation between Christianity and State Shinto as the national religion.
In a sense, Uchimura and Christianity were made to play the role of “scape-goat” in the context of resurgent nationalism which started from 1889. If we take a longer view of history, however, Uchimura’s speech and action could have been a great warning or prophesy to the subsequent Japanese history which headed for the path to militarism. The purpose of this chapter is to bring out the meaning of Uchimura’s Lese Majesty Incident in the context of the period from the Meiji Restoration to 1945.

A. Religious Situation of the Meiji Period.

Following the revolution of 1868, the primary wish of the Meiji government was to induce the nations of the Occident to revise the unequal treaties. The treaties which the emperor had approved under coercion on October 23, 1865, established the basis of Japan’s relations with the West until 1894. These instruments took away two of the nation’s rights: right of legal jurisdiction to foreign diplomats and tariff autonomy. Therefore, Japanese eagerly tried to import western culture and technocracy in order to overcome the disadvantage which confronted the nation after its reopening; they borrowed almost every phase of western life.(1)
The diplomatic mission charged with negotiating the revision of unequal treaties heard charges everywhere it went that because Japan did not provide for freedom of religious belief, it could only be considered an uncivilized nation. Citing this reason, Western nations refused to revise the treaties.(2)Thus the combined pressures of western nations persuaded the Meiji government to lift the edict banning Christianity in 1873. Religious freedom was guaranteed in the constitution of 1889: “Japanese subjects shall, within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief” (art. 28). In this situation, numerous missionaries rushed into Japan and Christianization of Japan was accelerated, accompanied by her general westernization. Protestantism in Japan generally expanded and prospered from 1872 to 1889; converts rapidly increased, and the main outlines of the future Protestant Christianity of Japan began to take form. During these 17 years, the population of Japanese Christians had grown to approximately thirty thousand.(3) No prominent obstacle of the growing church could be observed.(4)

(1)op cit, Thomas, p.185-6.
(2)Helen Hardacre, Shinto and the State, 1868-1988, (NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989), p.115.
(3)Arimichi Ebisawa and Saburo Ouchi, Nihon Kirisutokyou Shi [A History of Christianity in Japan], (Tokyo: Nihon Kirisuto Kyodan Shuppan Kyoku, 1971), p.194.
(4)op cit, Thomas, p.182.

カテゴリー: 統一神学大学院修士論文シリーズ パーマリンク