The impact of Christianity on Japan if not for the suppression?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Malone, Sep 8, 2017.

  1. Malone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    If Christianity which was introduced there in the late 16th century were allowed to have spread naturally without the suppression and purges that followed what impact would that have had on the Japan that followed?
     
    alex costa, Soverihn, Timaeus and 2 others like this.
  2. Alex Zetsu Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2017
    Well, to be honest it didn't get very far even under Oda Nobunaga's protection. The Shinto institutions were strong. I don't see it making headway for another three generations, and even with butterflies I'm not seeing the old religion going below 75% by 2000 barring external occupation and intervention.

    That said, there are plenty of ways Christianity could have affected Japan without converting a plurality of the masses or the shogunate. For example, the Otomo Clan might have risen to prominence as one of the trusted families of the Tokugawa. Or perhaps a tolerance might have allowed Nobunaga to conquer Japan (it's a long shot since Christianity isn't for or against any clan, but your POD is sufficiently early we might have butterflies on events down the line). the 13th Ashikaga shogun tolerated the missionaries and was on good terms with a young Nobunaga (who hadn't conquered Mino yet).

    We might avoid this disaster. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shimabara_Rebellion Alternately, it might have happened anyways, but the punishment less serve. While the daimyo of the land was persecuting Christians, he was an all around asshole who didn't care for his people or even his court. If there was less suppression of Christianity to begin with, the Shogun might end up simply offering to the rebels to replace their previous lord with one of his own choices, since the rebellion was initially directed at the cruel lord for his tyranny.
     
  3. EmperorOfTheNorthSea Closing the Pool

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Location:
    NUUURF COORALINA
    If it was allowed to be practiced and not get oppressed or whatnot then it could lead to a small pro-western faction in Japan that could push against the isolation policies.
     
    Timaeus likes this.
  4. AcaciaSgt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2016
    Location:
    Mexicali, Baja California
    One thing that comes to mind is that perhaps something more comes out of the San Juan Bautista voyage, alongside Tsunenaga's trip, if it still happens. Perhaps he gets the trade agreements he was looking for.
     
  5. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Location:
    Syracuse, Haudenosaunee, Vinland
    Based on Japanese history, I'd imagine the best way for Christianity to survive in Japan would be if the Shogun required Christians to be independent of any foreign powers.
    Roman Catholicism, in particular, would be WAY to easy to function as a stalking horse for the Spanish Crown. Get someone to explain to the Shogun (or Emperor, or whomever) "Henry VIII" and "cuius regio, eius religio", and have a Japanese National Catholic Church, say.

    I would think that it could easily be a major force, at least in Kyushu, where a couple of Daimyo's, iOTL, had converted.
     
    Hawkeye, Soverihn, Patukov and 2 others like this.
  6. kasumigenx Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2009
    I think the Protestants would need to get to Japan first in that scenario.
     
  7. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Location:
    Syracuse, Haudenosaunee, Vinland
    Not really. The Shogun (or an emissary) quietly goes to the Christian daimyos and says 'You can set up your bishop in charge of a Japanese Catholic church, and we'll leave you alone, OR you, your family and your followers will be executed. Which would you prefer?'

    Just how dedicated are those guys to the Pope? And aren't even they a little worried about a slow Spanish takeover?
    Oh, I'm sure a few major players, maybe even one of the Daimyo will choose martyrdom, and I'm also sure that there'd be a lot of 'priest-holes' and priest smuggling for the crypto-papists, but I'd also bet that at least one Daimyo would leap at the chance of having more control, and, as long as the worship is the same (removing only mention of the Pope, for instance), I don't imagine MOST of the Japanese Christians will complain horribly.

    In case you're not familiar with the term 'priest-hole', these were little hidden rooms/apartments that crypto-Catholic families would have, where a fugitive priest on rounds could stay for a while, and celebrate Mass with the family and maybe trusted neighbours. I'm sure Romish Japanese would figure out the like.

    Compare what China has done in the last generations with its national Catholic church - and that didn't even have the threat of foreign great power conduit of influence like would have been the case with Japan.

    As for Protestants getting there first, I don't think that's necessary. All you really need, IMO, is some Dutch and English traders at Dejima telling tales about Protestant Europe - especially the Lutheran and Anglican realms.
     
    Soverihn, Remitonov and Historyman 14 like this.
  8. Napoleonrules Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    Negligible influence. This idea that Christianity can win converts and have an impact "if only it wasn't persecuted!" is a horrible concept and plain wrong and assumes Christianity is superior.
     
  9. Timaeus Basileus of Zosyneia

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Location:
    The Pearl of the Orient.
    It's not that Christianity is superior. But it won enough converts IOTL to make it an interesting What If, not to mention the impact of OTL Japanese Christians. Add to it the fever dreams of the Pope siding with the Jesuits instead of the Dominicans in the Chinese rites controversy, and one can only wonder how different East Asia could be with a more vibrant Christendom in the region.

    This is coming from a person who lives in one of two Catholic countries in Southeast Asia, so ignore me if you want. :p
     
  10. AcaciaSgt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2016
    Location:
    Mexicali, Baja California
    Indeed. Even if Christianity doesn't become majority, and/or Japan still goes isolationist, just the fact they wouldn't be persecuted is going to change things. As I mentioned above, Tsunenaga's voyage to Europe could see more success, and perhaps the Spanish could engage in trade with Japan even if they isolate, like the Dutch did in OTL. Just imagine, the Manilla Galleons making a stop at Japan while traveling to and from New Spain (probably at Sendai, since Tsunenaga was sponsored by Date Masamune, and it would be in the latter's interests).
     
    Diego, Hawkeye, Soverihn and 3 others like this.
  11. Timaeus Basileus of Zosyneia

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    Location:
    The Pearl of the Orient.
    I think it might be safe to assume that isolationism is not on the cards if Christianity isn't being clamped down on. A shogunate stable enough to not need to suppress Christianity is one legitimate enough to not need to isolate itself from the world.
     
    Diego and Alex Zetsu like this.
  12. CountDVB Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2017
    The big problem is that religion is viewed and handled alot differently in the East than in the West. Christianity would still be in the minor popularity at best in Japan even without suppression. It might get attention from a few Japanese Buddhists though.
     
    kasumigenx, Napoleonrules and Timaeus like this.
  13. Βοανηργές Member

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2017
    Let's say the pro-western faction is successful in its proselytizing efforts which decides to focus on the upper echelon, ultimately winning over a few important converts, maybe some major daimyos, the shogun or even the emperor himself? What happens then, with a minority upper ruling class that is Christian? Would that be enough to motivate the mass conversion of peasants after their figurehead or if that fails, remain safe to continue reigning into the present day?
     
  14. Jiraiyathegallant Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    Wasn't it? It became the worlds largest religion and its followers managed to conquer virtually everything in the world by the end of WWII, including Japan, with only most of China avoiding conquest. Christianity has by far the greatest potential for mass conversions going by the OTL.

    It seems ahistorical to imply that religions all have similar abilities to spread.
     
    Sol Zagato, Diego and Fabius Maximus like this.
  15. Napoleonrules Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    The USA did not conquer Japan in the name of Christianity, nor because it was a "Christian nation" (which it isn't). I suggest your ideas about Christianity and history are seriously flawed based on that statement and think you may want to clarify.
     
    Timaeus likes this.
  16. Jiraiyathegallant Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2012
    I don't have any need to clarify.

    Your statement was implying that Christianity isn't superior at winning converts, when it became the worlds largest religion and its followers dominated the world (dominating international trade, built the worlds largest empires, and came up with a disproportionate amount of money and technology) during this threads era which gave Christianity a huge advantage which was used to Christianize three and a half continents and bits of others. Alternatively, if your statement about Christianity not being superior was a personal value judgement, then in that case it doesn't matter as far as an alternate timeline is concerned, that's just like your opinion man.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
    Prism, Diego and Fabius Maximus like this.
  17. EmperorOfTheNorthSea Closing the Pool

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Location:
    NUUURF COORALINA
    Kinda hard when the a good part of the legitimacy behind the Emperor is based in Paganism so by converting to Christianity he would be throwing that out the window.
     
  18. BBadolato Fifth Picturewraith

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2012
    The Buddhist institutions were more various of schools of Buddhism that manage to establish fortified temples, and even then it was only with more notable temples. That and well Japan saw its clergy undergo the same militarization of the period. In some cases with armies of monks from different schools fighting each other, especially factoring in samurai that became monks and joined those temples The Otomo lost their lands after Sorin's heir Yoshimune's cowardice cost the Japanese in Korea. Nobunaga could have conquered Japan, regardless, at least if we are talking about a POD in mid-1570's. Ashikaga Yoshiteru could tolerate Christianity but it wouldn't matter, the Ashikaga Shoguns where all but figureheads with no real power, it was the Daimyo who ran things.

    Even in Kyushu, the Catholic daimyo were not all that strong, the Arima of Hizen where a minor player compared to the Ryuzoji clan who controlled most of the province. The Otomo themselves were nearly beaten by the Shimazu. I did use the idea of transplanting the Tokugawa system where people had to register to local temples, with Christian churches, but that was with a different Shogunate not the Tokugawa who would have little interest in keeping Christianity around by that time.
     
  19. Fabius Maximus Unus qui nobis cunctando restituit rem

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Location:
    Perfidious Albion
    Not really; Spain's too far away, and 16th-century communications too bad, for the Spanish Crown to exert any influence over Japan.

    Well, it made a fair few converts IOTL, mostly in the south of the country. Also, given that Christianity IOTL is the world's biggest religion, the notion of (a significant portion of) a country converting to Christianity is evidently neither "horrible" nor "plain wrong".
     
    Diego likes this.
  20. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Location:
    Syracuse, Haudenosaunee, Vinland
    Tell that to the Philippines. Spanish tercios against swordsmen? I think a military conquest - especially with a loyal, local fifth column is entirely possible. More to the point, having Spanish (and Spanish trained) priests telling congregations/followers to oppose the 'pagan' government or to support Spanish trade concessions, or ....
    No, I think Tokugawa had legitimate concerns. I doubt isolation was the right answer, but allowing a Spanish church (which is what it would have amounted to) to take first precedence on the loyalty of Japanese would have been a big problem.