western imperial territories to fight in the First World War, but Asia was not a major theatre. Asian politics followed a different track with the consequences of inner turmoil in China after the fall of the Qing dynasty in China in 1912. A developing Japan took advantage of this in launching the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, after the occupation of Manchuria from 1931. Japan's political ambitions made it ready to take advantage of the British and French distraction after 1939 to attack western imperial territories, most memorably Singapore in 1942 following the attack on the US Navy in Pearl Harbour in 1941. Even after the final defeat of Japan with the first use of atomic weapons by the western allies in 1945, war persisted in Korea until 1953 and in Indo-China until the 1970s. The scale of casualties in these wars is only paralleled by those on the Russian front in the west.
The Japanese theologian Kazoh Kitamori published his book Theology of the Pain of God in 1946 and it was translated into English in 1965. Described as 'the first strictly theological Japanese book to be introduced in the English-speaking world',i2 it was written in the aftermath of Hiroshima. Although strongly influenced in certain respects by the categories of Lutheran systematic theology, it nevertheless also represented an engagement with Buddhist ideas, not least in the particular understanding of pain. Kitamori's approach was re-appraised by Kosuke Koyama in his Water Buffalo Theology (1974). He also engaged with Buddhism, in his case in Thailand, in order to discuss the possibilities of 'theological re-rooting' for those brought up in different cultural and religious milieux!'1' Koyama did so in order to affirm what he took to be Kitamori's main point, that what Christ achieved went beyond the categories of Christian theology alone. Is that religious pluralism or a new kind of Christian imperialism?
Politically and economically Asia shared some characteristics of Latin America and Africa, but was in other respects strikingly different. The most obvious common feature was poverty, which affected as much as eighty per cent of the population in some countries such as Bangladesh and the Philippines. When it is remembered that Asia has nearly sixty per cent of the world's population, both the relative and the absolute significance of poverty is clear. With the partial exception of Japan, even
K. Kitamori, Theology of the Pain of God (London: SCM, 1966), p. 7.
K. Koyama, Water Buffalo Theology, revised edn (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999), pp. 82—9. (Readers should be warned that in new on-line library cataloguing systems the title of the first edition is usually Water-Buffalo Theology, which does not necessarily appear if the hyphen is omitted.)
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