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Book says MacArthur flooded Japan with post-war religion

c. 2011 Religion News Service

(RNS/ENInews) A new book on post-war Japan says Gen. Douglas MacArthur sought to fill the country’s “spiritual vacuum” with religious and quasi-religious beliefs, from Christianity to Freemasonry, as an antidote to communism.

In 1945 Under the Shadow of the Occupation: The Ashlar and The Cross, Japanese investigative journalist Eiichiro Tokumoto documents MacArthur’s efforts to persuade missionaries to intensify their efforts, even encouraging mass conversions to Catholicism.

“There was a complete collapse of faith in Japan in 1945 — in our invincible military, in the emperor, in the religion that had become known as ‘state Shinto,”‘ Tokumoto writes.


A number of documents Tokumoto used for research were declassified only recently, including accounts of a 1946 meeting between MacArthur and two U.S. Catholic bishops.

“General MacArthur asked us to urge the sending of thousands of Catholic missionaries — at once,” Bishops John F. O’Hara and Michael J. Ready later reported to the Vatican. MacArthur told them that they had a year to help fill the “spiritual vacuum” created by the defeat.

Based on his experience in the Philippines, MacArthur believed the Catholic Church could find particular appeal because the tradition of seeking absolution for one’s mistakes or misdeeds “appeals to the Oriental,” they reported.

In the wake of the missionaries’ efforts, the Bible became a best-seller in Japan, while the number of Catholics climbed about 19 percent between 1948 and 1950, Tokumoto said.

The missionaries’ success, however, was short-lived. Relatively few of the 2,000 or so who flooded into Japan could speak Japanese, and the 1960s saw a student backlash against perceived “elite” Christians who ran several major universities.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Mordred08

    “the 1960s saw a student backlash against perceived ‘elite’ Christians who ran several major universities.”

    Christians, elitists? Say it ain’t so!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    It’s good Japan seems to have recovered from that treatment.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    That comes as no surprise that there would be a try to get those rotten Japs to change their ways. However since they didn’t seem to have enough forethought to send in people who could speak Japanese, how did they think their “message” was going to be given? Fortunately they didn’t seem to think language would be a barrier! OOPS! Lost a few possibilities for “converts”.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    BTW, I don’t think the Japanese are rotten. I was attempting to think like McArthur and his crew would think.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    pagan, turn you loose and your bigotry just pops out all over the place, I have not hear Japanese called that in ages. If Mac promoted religion or not is not clear, it’s a book people are trying to sell, how about if he promoted atheism?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment jestrfyl

    Another attempt to use religion as a means for social control. This is compared to religion as a means for spiritual expression and personal development. Further proof that this is not a good strategy for international influence.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    cknuck–like I said, I’d be surprised with the attitude many Americans had towards the Japanese after Pearl Harbor, and WWII, my attempting to think as one from that generation is not that far fetched. My parents (and probably yours) were in that war. No love for that country for a long time. No, my parents did not express that view to us, but unfortunately we knew the feelings. However, I certainly have no problem with Japanese or any other group of people. Whether you believe that or not? Not my problem.

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