How Japan saved itself from Christianity, how Africa did not – by Chinweizu

Those Africans who voluntarily converted to Christianity before the colonial conquest such as Affonso I of the BaKongo in the 15th century probably did not discern the purpose of the brand of Christianity that was supplied to them. Which was probably why they fell easy prey to the missionaries and the white traders and pirates who followed them.

But their Japanese counterparts probably did discern the game, even without access to some version of Leopold’s letter. But even if the Japanese Shoguns did not intuit what Leopold makes explicit, they clearly realized the danger of Japanese converts to Christianity forming a fifth column within Japanese society and state, a fifth column loyal to their co-religionists in Europe.

To rid Japan of that danger, in the late 16th century, the Shoguns began their expulsion of Portuguese and Spanish missionaries on the grounds that they were forcing Japanese to become Christian, teaching their disciples to wreck temples, taking and trading slaves, etc.

Then, in 1596, it became clear to the Japanese authorities that Christianization had been a prelude to Spanish conquest of other lands; and it quickly dawned on them that a fifth column loyal to Rome and controlled by the priests of a foreign religion was a clear and present danger to the sovereignty of a newly unified Japan.

Soon after, the persecution and suppression of Japanese Christians began. Early in the 17th century, sensing the danger from a creed that taught obedience to foreign priests rather than the Japanese authorities, all missionaries were ordered to leave and all Japanese were ordered to register at the Buddhist temples. When Japanese Christians took part in a rebellion, foreign priests were executed, the Spanish were expelled and Japanese Christians were forbidden to travel abroad.

After another rebellion, largely by Christians, was put down, the Japanese Christians were suppressed and their descendants were put under close state surveillance for centuries thereafter. In the 1640s all Japanese suspected of being Christians were ruthlessly exterminated. Thus did Japan, by 1650, save itself from the first European attempt to mentally subvert, conquer and colonize it.

The African captives who were taken abroad and enslaved, and the Africans at home after the European conquest, having already been forcibly deprived of their autonomy, were in no political position to resist Christianization. Thus the Christianity still practised in all of the African American diaspora, just as that in the African homeland since the start of the 20th century, continues to carry out the Leopoldian mandate.
Hence, for example, whereas the White Born-Agains of the USA, when in the US Navy ships in WWII, sang:

“Praise the Lord,
And pass the ammunition,” the attitude of African Born-Again converts today is best summed up as :
“Praise the Lord,
And lie down for the manna.”

Thanks to a century or more of this Leopold-mandated missionary mind control, African Christians are not an activist, self-helping, economically engaged, politically resolute, let alone militant bunch. Hence their putting up with all manner of mistreatment and exploitation by their misrulers, white and black. The most they are disposed to do to their misrulers is to admonish them to “Fear God!”

3 thoughts on “How Japan saved itself from Christianity, how Africa did not – by Chinweizu”

  1. Challenging Perceptions of Whiteness and Rightness in Japan By Teresa Williams

    Once again, I am finding myself in that challenging yet exciting space of addressing issues that are often left to breed into a vestige of imperialism and oppression if not brought to the surface for examination and dialogue. Although I am in Japan, rest assured that here, I have been in a constant struggle to weave my inner convictions, intuitions and perspectives into the outer exteriors via my teaching and working within this context.

    I am, however, constantly reminded of the intricate dynamics of race, gender and class politics within this context as an African-American female employed by Japanese companies and educational institutions that often consists of people of European descent being in positions of leadership and responsibility from various countries who possess varying degrees of distorted realities, preconceptions and perceptions with regard to race, gender and class issues.

    At one company where I am employed, the core curriculum consists of using and developing CNN and BBC video reports that offer insights into various conditions and social issues facing developing and developed countries (but largely developing country’s problems, conflicts and inadequacies).

    Being that I teach critical thinking and studies on oppression and social change in other educational contexts in Japan, it seems only natural to me that I would encourage the students at this particular company to question and challenge these media reports by BBC and CNN (deemed by many to be the authorities on the world’s problems) in addition to examining all aspects regarding the challenges developing countries are faced with – both past and present which are often not analyzed and discussed in depth by the media or in classrooms in this context.

    Whilst fulfilling the objectives of the curriculum, I have also taken the lesson planning process further by allowing the students to question and examine what is happening within their own societal context and even going further by examining the propagation of Eurocentric-Masculinist notions of reality and conclusions about the rest of the world – particularly countries of color via the lens of BBC and CNN.

    Most challenging for me is having to exist in a work environment that expects us to teach such reports about the world but does not reflect or encourage a concerted interest nor collective awareness and/or motivation to move beyond witnessing the plights of the oppressed via BBC and CNN media reports.

    In other words, this largely Europeanized English language department coupled with the conservative Japanese management and many of the students that are attending this program do not reflect the lives of the people we are focusing on in the developing countries.

    We have been given thought-provoking topics of interests for each units according to the levels. They range from immigration, the haves and have-nots, politics of water, indigenous people, religious fundamentalism, women’s rights, discrimination, AIDS, etc. Topics which are supposed to generate some degree of surface and generic ‘insight’ into the plights of the poor and oppressed or how the rich countries have just gotten to fat and need to ‘be more kind’ to the less fortunate.

    Such patronizing sterilized approaches to dealing with the real life issues which affect people’s lives has propelled me to activate my lessons more towards shifting the students (and the staff) away from the tendency to view the problems of the developing world as the fault of the people who live in these areas for somehow not being ‘educated or responsible enough’ to transform their conditions.

    For me to be in the classrooms on a weekly basis to witness these white men (and other puppets representing the BBC and CNN) report on the plights of the economically oppressed and societies of color as if they are the authority on the world is disturbing because it positions people of European descent within that sphere of influence of constantly dictating to the rest of the world what has to be done.

    While I commend the institution on their efforts of incorporating such thought-provoking themes for the reports and news articles we cover in depth, I feel that something most significant has been omitted from these unit processes. As a black woman, it is from this space of observation coupled with the sense of alienation that I write this commentary because it illustrates to me how white privilege factors tremendously in how language is taught and how the world is constructed and defined (or not defined) by those of European descent.

    People of European descent often have the privilege of conveying and thrusting how they see the world’s problems onto to the rest of us by shaping our psyches via what we receive from the media and in learning institutions. Many feel they do not have to be responsible or congruent in their behavior and actions because the societal structures often conveys to them that white superiority and privilege are synonymous and they have a certain liberty to manufacture distorted reality and processed education for others.

    I am focusing on people of European descent although they do not have a hegemony on oppression and imperialism. But they have been the agent and source of many of the current worlds’ problems and dysfunctionalities are thus, in my mind, the source of my own current contained inner rage as I have been socialized on the receiving end of their atrocities and racist practices all of my life – both in the United States, Japan, South East Asia and South Africa.

    Therefore, I feel justified in my perceptions and assessment of white people and their behavioral tendencies of painting and naming the world as they see fit which often does not correspond to the world in which I and many other people of color exist, envision or intuit. Today, for a homework assignment in my class, I asked the students to read an article entitled, “Marxism: What Is It All About” by Deidre Griswold to allow them to focus on the upcoming theme of ‘the have and have nots’.

    I asked them to chart the advantages and disadvantages of Marxism and to compare and contrast it with Capitalism in their own words and understanding of the information given. Many were shocked to receive this reading and others eagerly jotted down the assignment. How can we be expected to ‘teach’ about classism and the economic divide without examining the issues of the economically oppressed and other systems beyond Capitalism?

    In my mind and in my reality, this constitutes examining more than one system of values. After another class, students had just covered a BBC video report on Malaria in Africa and how it kills 90% of Africans. The reporter carried us to a village outside Abuja, Nigeria which was impoverished and desperate and which focused on efforts made to rectify the spread of malaria in the region.

    A white male representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on how malaria was keeping Africa poor and preventing Africa from moving forward. Why was he stressing “Africa” when in fact the report placed us in Nigeria??? After the learning lesson, I had the students to think about this in addition to other questions as to how they were impacted by such reports considering their lives were dramatically different – and privileged.

    I encouraged them to reflect on the fact that there were missing links not being covered in these media reports and the need for them to take on a more responsible nature in their learning beyond receiving the information passively without question. I added that many of the reports by BBC and CNN were of a white male perspective and were thus in favor of viewing developing countries as either problematic or ethnically exotic and that they needed to be cognizant of this.

    I returned feeling exhausted as I feel that once again I am left to do the work of addressing and deconstructing racism and oppression whilst white people had the privilege of constructing and managing curriculums, plans, lies, inconsistencies, images, reality and manufactured consent regarding the problems of the world. It is this space of being tired of having to take responsibility for the imperialist fallout and fragmentations that attempt to whip us into a state of silence and acquiescence.

    It is also this delicate space of witnessing the dynamics of race, class and gender and imperialism in action: in a learning environment via the media and in the presence of individuals who discourage or avoid any discourse on social responsibility or how to construct any meaningful social transformation. Thus, their unwillingness is then exported onto Japanese society and the learning institutions that continue the recycling of imperialistic thought and hypocrisy with regard to naming the dysfunctions of the world as being something that is endemic to the victims themselves devoid of any external and institutionalized oppressive influence.

    I am planning to address many of these incongruencies that I am witnessing, feeling and intuiting because by not doing so, I silence myself while becoming an active participant in this cycle of irresponsibility. I cannot teach my own constructed curriculums at other venues that center on deconstructing myths and atrocities whilst remaining on the margins of a homogenized workplace that I thought would have more depth and substance as a learning institution.

    As a woman of color – and the only person of color that is non-Japanese and non-white in this particular company, I can only empower myself whilst empowering my students to recognize and challenge all institutionalized forms of oppression and discrimination regardless of the context. To me, this is my number one objective in all of my teaching assignments in Japan as it shifts many from their comfort zone of reticence and passivity towards learning how to make connections with issues and their dimensions across the spectrum.

    As a black woman in Japan, I am constantly challenged to deconstruct the myths Japanese people may possess about black people but I am equally challenged to resist the blatant and covert racism from people of European descent in this context – many who possess their own warped perspectives about Japanese people and black people simultaneously.

    In fact, I have encountered more hostility and racism from whites in Japan than from the Japanese and it sickens me that wherever I encounter white folks, 9 times out of 10, I will no doubt encounter their plague of externalized racism and insecurity regarding my cultural identity and how it either challenges or minimizes their own. I have reached a point whereby I feel more adamant about challenging white racism in this context now than never before over these next few months because I have witnessed too many manifestations play themselves out in this society – which is equally entrenched within the framework of a patriarchal, sexist, oppressive, conservative and largely homogenous culture.

    Not to mention the American occupation, U.S. armed forces and the dance of economic imperialism that exist between the G-8 countries. Daily I witness the impact that globalization and neo-colonization is having on Japanese society and the people here in their efforts to maintain this dance of modernization and capitalism. I have witnessed the blanket denials and amnesia of their wartime atrocities and past actions and I have equally witnessed the struggles and impediments of people who are involved in their quest for social change and anti-imperialism within this deeply regimented society.

    A revolution of social change in Japan would rock the rest of Asia and would pose a tremendous threat to Western nations that would prefer to contain Japan strictly as a pillar for economic prostitution and as and honorary white that sets the pace for the globalization of other Asian nations in the 21st century.

    Thus, white supremacy has been internalized as something that many Japanese people aspire towards because it represents supreme power, wealth and the ability to exist on the same playing field as those who manufacture history, win wars, colonize lands and wipe out cultures. Many have internalized such madness and have no idea that they have done so.

    It is with this backdrop that I can analyze the psychology of imperialism and how it breeds and recycles itself across and upon cultures, time, reality and space. But the unique aspect about Japanese society is the fact that it is a culture thousands of years old with ancient forms of Confucianism, Shintoism and Buddhism in place as a cushion that grounds this society with a set of societal ethics and morals.

    The true test for the Japanese is going to be how they are going to withstand their cultural past and traditions in this draconian context of globalization and Western imperialism which forces the Japanese to succumb to this modern dance of enslavement and madness. Their society has only become entrenched in this modern madness over the past 146 years since the opening of Japan by Commodore Perry and the US Navy in 1854.

    Since then, the Japanese have been trying to ‘catch up’ and maintain the dance with the rest of the so called industrialized West. More than anything, the Japanese will have to demonstrate to the rest of the world that they are capable of resisting white supremacy and imperialism by acknowledging their own collusion and condonement in acts of economic injustice and oppression and by taking more responsibility to address the inequities and exploitation that exist in this world.

    To stand up to the white man will be the true test for the Japanese in addition to bringing their voice and support to the plights of the oppressed who do not have white skin. It is from this level of awareness and understanding that I feel I have been most effective in my work in Japan as an educator, activist and creative artist that is committed to the “transformation of language and silence to meaningful action” as the late African-American poet and writer Audre Lorde so eloquently stated.

  2. I think you have sort of confusion following concepts of christianity and catholicism and the way they ruled people through religion. You think Japan suffered less than africa because they didnt received catholic? or africa suffered most because many died being christians? the irony is that politics dont save from war, but african christians could say they died defending their belief and died believing they would be saved even after all the suffering, so who was saved from what in the end? you live few time in this live, and some people live few even from trivial accidents… in life you have a limited time to chose on which situation death will face you

    1. “You think Japan suffered less than africa because they didnt received catholic?”
      Only an idiot can ask that question. Japan suffered less than Africa culturally, politically , mentally and politically. It’s so obvious that even an ostrich can see it with its head in sand.
      Look at china, india and other asian people that rejected euro-arab religious garbage. They beg less than africans and have less racial complex of inferiority.

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