Japan survival of the secret Christians

The establishment of the Tokugawa bakufu government following the Battle of Sekigehara (1600) soon brought to a close the 'Christian Century' in Japan. The third shogun (military ruler), Tokugawa Iemitsu, strengthened the bakufu regime by thoroughly prohibiting the Christian religion and promoting a policy of national isolation (sakoku). The closure of the country to the outside world was intended as a means of extirpating Christianity, by preventing the smuggling of missionaries into the country and keeping any Christian influences from filtering in from abroad. Japanese Christianity received its severest blow in the wake ofthe Shimabara Rebellion (1637-38) on the island of Kyushu, a place where Christianity had become well established. In the aftermath of the rebellion, an Office of Inquisition for Christian Affairs was established at Edo (modern Tokyo) in 1640. It was put under the direction of a special commissioner who was entrusted with the task of exterminating all surviving Christians and eliminating the last remnants of the alien creed from the country. It maintained a prison (Kirishitan yashiki), where captured missionaries and influential Christians were examined, tortured, or imprisoned until their death. The Office of Inquisition remained in operation uninterruptedly until 1792.

Some 150,000 Japanese converts had gone underground to escape the severe persecutions, and the government employed various means to destroy these

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