The Catholic Church in Japan encompasses a bit less than 0.4% of the country’s 127 million habitants (0.6% if we add the migrant Catholic population). It is still a big challenge to find a way for the Gospel to reach the great majority of the Japanese people. The Japanese society normally lives with a kind of syncretism between traditional religion, Shintoism (in many cases just ad hoc practices), and Buddhism that all together give shape to a strong system of values and attitudes. Apart from those who join and practice their faith in any of the religious groups, there are also many who get in touch with religious groups (Catholic, Buddhist, Christian…) to seek for guidance or to celebrate or give meaning to important events in their lives (marriage, death…). In fact, religion has almost no vital space in this very hi-tech society focused on work, productivity, and social and economic success. In Japan we have to clearly distinguish between the religious feeling present in people’s lives and their affiliation or identification with a concrete religious group. Indeed, despite the tendencies mentioned, the religious quest seems to subsist, and it shows up in the search for inner peace able to counteract the stress provoked by such a competitive life.
MS 1 (Cf. CC 2; Dir 26.)