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Thus, he did
not hesitate to have recourse to arms in order to obtain for the
Jesuits access to the island of Amakusa, where one of the local
barons, tempted originally by tradal prospects and afterwards urged
by his wife, called upon his vassals to choose between conversion or
exile, and issued an order that any Buddhist priests refusing to
accept Christianity would have their property confiscated and their
persons banished.

Practically the whole population became converts under the pressure
of these edicts, and it is thus seen that Christianity owed much of
its success in Kyushu to methods which recall Islam and the
Inquisition. Another illustration of this is furnished by the Arima
fief, which adjoined that of Omura where Sumitada ruled. The heads of
these two fiefs were brothers, and thus when Sumitada embraced
Christianity the Jesuits received an invitation to visit Arima at the
ports of Kuchinotsu and Shimabara, where from that time Portuguese
ships repaired frequently. In 1576, the Arima baron, seeing the
prosperity and power which had followed the conversion of his brother
Sumitada, accepted baptism and became the "Prince Andrew" of
missionary records. In those records we read that "the first thing
Prince Andrew did after his baptism was to convert the chief temple
of his capital into a church, its revenues being assigned for the
maintenance of the building and the support of the missionaries. He
then took measures to have the same thing done in the other towns of
his fief, and he seconded the preachers of the Gospel so well in
everything else that he could flatter himself that he soon would not
have one single idolater in his states." This fanatical "Prince
Andrew" survived his baptism by two years only, but during that time
twenty thousand converts were made in Arima. His successor, however,
was a believer in Buddhism. He caused the Christian churches to be
destroyed and the crosses to be thrown down; he ordered the Jesuits
to quit his dominions, and he required the converts to return to
Buddhism. Under this pressure about one-half of the converts
apostatized, but the rest threatened to leave Kuchinotsu en masse.
However this would have meant the loss of foreign trade, and as a
result of this circumstance the anti-Christian edicts were radically
modified.

Just at that time, also, a fortunate incident occurred. It had become
the custom for a large vessel from Macao to visit Japan every year,
and the advent of this ship had great importance from a commercial
point of view. It chanced that she made the port of Kuchinotsu her
place of call in 1578, and her presence suggested such a pleasing
outcome that the feudatory embraced Christianity and allowed his
vassals to do the same. By this "great ship from Macao" the Jesuit
vice-general, Valegnani was a passenger. A statesman as well as a
preacher, this astute politician made such a clever use of the
opportunity that, in 1580, "all the city was made Christian, and the
people burned their idols and destroyed forty temples, reserving some
materials to build churches."

RESULTS OF THE FIRST THREE DECADES OF PROPAGANDISM

The record achieved by the Christian propagandists up to this time
was distinctly satisfactory. In the Annual Letter of 1582 we find it
stated that, at the close of 1581, that is to say, thirty-two years
after Xavier's landing in Japan there were about 150,000 converts. Of
these some 125,000 were in Kyushu; the remainder in Yamaguchi, Kyoto,
and the vicinity of the latter city. As for the Jesuits in Japan,
they then numbered seventy-five, but down to the year 1563 there had
never been more than nine. "The harvest was certainly great in
proportion to the number of sowers. But it was a harvest mainly of
artificial growth, forced by despotic insistence of feudal chiefs who
possessed the power of life and death over their vassals, and were
influenced by a desire to attract foreign trade."

BUDDHISM AND CHRISTIANITY

"To the Buddhist priests this movement of Christian propagandism had
brought an experience hitherto almost unknown in Japan--persecution
solely on account of creed. They had suffered for interfering in
politics, but the cruel vehemence of the Christian fanatic may be
said to have now become known for the first time to men themselves
usually conspicuous for tolerance of heresy and for receptivity of
instruction. They had had little previous experience of humanity in
the garb of an Otomo of Bungo, who, in the words of Crasset, Svent to
the chase of the bonzes as to that of wild beasts, and made it his
singular pleasure to exterminate them from his states.'"*

*Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition; article "Japan," by Brinkley.

JAPANESE EMBASSY TO EUROPE

Another important result of the coming of Valegnani to Japan was
that, in 1582, an embassy sailed from Nagasaki for Europe. It
consisted of four young men, representing the fiefs of Arima, Omura,
and Bungo, and it is related that at Lisbon, Madrid, and Rome they
were received with an elaborate show of dazzling magnificence, so
that they carried back to their island home a vivid impression of the
might and wealth of Western countries.

KYOTO AND CHRISTIANITY

It has already been shown that the visit to Kyoto by Xavier and
Fernandez was wholly unsuccessful. Such was not the case, however,
when another visit was made to the same city by Vilela, in the year
1559. This eminent missionary had been invited to Kyoto by the abbot
of the celebrated Buddhist monastery of Hiei-zan, who desired to
investigate the Christian doctrine. It is to be noted that, at this
time, Christian propagandism in Kyushu had not yet begun to be
disfigured by acts of violence. Vilela carried letters of
introduction from the Bungo feudatory, but before he reached the
capital the Buddhist abbot of Hiei-zan had died, and his successor
did not show the same liberal spirit of inquiry. Still, Vilela was
permitted to expound his doctrines in the presence of a gathering of
priests in the great monastery, and afterwards the good offices of
one of these bonzes, supplemented by the letter of the Bungo
feudatory, procured for the Jesuit father the honour of being
received by the shogun, Yoshiteru, who treated him with much
consideration and assigned a house for his residence.

Vilela does not seem to have allowed himself to be influenced in any
degree by the aid that he received on this occasion from his Buddhist
friend, who is described as "one of the most respected men in the
city." The Jesuit father seized the first opportunity to denounce
Buddhism and its followers in unmeasured terms, and soon the bonzes
began to intrigue with corresponding vehemence for the expulsion of
the foreign propagandists. But the shogun extended his protection to
Vilela, by issuing a decree which made it a capital punishment to
injure the missionaries or obstruct their work. The times, however,
were very troublous, so that Vilela and his fellow workers had to
encounter much difficulty and no little danger. Nothing, however,
damped their ardour, and five years after their arrival in Kyoto they
had not only obtained many converts but had organized churches in
five towns within a radius of fifty miles from the capital. Two
incidents may be specially mentioned illustrating the loyal spirit
with which the Japanese of that time approached controversy. Among
Vilela's converts were two Buddhist priests who had been nominated
officially to investigate and report upon the novel doctrines, and
who, in the sequel of their investigation, openly embraced
Christianity though they had originally been vehemently opposed to
it. The second incident was the conversion of a petty feudatory,
Takayama, whose fief lay at Takatsuki in the vicinity of the capital.
He challenged Vilela to a public discussion of the merits of the two
creeds, and being vanquished, he frankly acknowledged his defeat,
adopted Christianity, and invited his vassals as well as his family
to follow his example. His son, Yusho, became one of the most loyal
supporters of Christianity in all Japan. He is the "Don Justo
Ukondono" of the Jesuits' annals.

NOBUNAGA AND CHRISTIANITY

At the time of Vilela's visit to Kyoto civil war was raging. It led
to the death of the shogun, Yoshiteru, and to the issue of an
Imperial decree proscribing Christianity, Vilela and his two comrades
were obliged to take refuge in the town of Sakai, and they remained
there during three years, when they were invited to an interview with
Oda Nobunaga, who, at this time, had risen almost to the pinnacle of
his immense power. Had Nobunaga shown himself hostile to
Christianity, the latter's fate in Japan would have been quickly
sealed; but not only was he a man of wide and liberal views, but also
he harboured a strong antipathy against the Buddhists, whose armed
interference in politics had caused him much embarrassment. He
welcomed Christianity largely as an opponent of Buddhism, and when
Takayama conducted Froez from Sakai to Nobunaga's presence, the
Jesuit received a cordial welcome. Thenceforth, during the fourteen
remaining years of his life, Nobunaga steadily befriended the
missionaries in particular and foreign visitors to Japan in general.
He stood between the Jesuits and the Throne when, in reply to an
appeal from Buddhist priests, the Emperor Okimachi, for the second
time, issued an anti-Christian decree (1568); he granted a site for a
church and a residence at Azuchi on Lake Biwa, where his new castle
stood; he addressed to various powerful feudatories letters
signifying a desire for the spread of Christianity; he frequently
made handsome presents to the fathers, and whenever they visited him
he showed himself accessible and gracious. The Jesuits said of him:
"This man seems to have been chosen by God to open and prepare the
way for our faith. In proportion to the intensity of his enmity to
the bonzes and their sects is his good-will towards our fathers who
preach the law of God, whence he has shown them so many favours that
his subjects are amazed and unable to divine what he is aiming at in
this.



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