NEWS & PRESSRELEASE

Prayer Focus

Japan

20 February 2007

The world's most powerful export oriented economy despite lack of natural resources and oil, Japan's high savings and low interest rates stimulated a massive capital investment boom based on high property values. The 1989 property crash pushed the world into recession and forced changes on Japan's protectionist policy towards industry, the financial world and trading patterns.

Unemployment and instability have increased, but Japan still has an enormous trade surplus with the world.

Japan posses a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy. The 45 years of stability and economic expansion since World War II have turned Japan into an economic superpower.

Freedom of religion is guaranteed to all by the constitution, but the rising power of nationalistic Shintoism, partly associated with the new emperor, is tarnishing that freedom.

Over 80% of Japanese claim no personal religion, but most follow the demands of idolatrous and ancestor-venerating Buddhism, and rituals of polytheistic Shintoism. Many also follow some of the hundreds of newer religious movements that are offshoots of these.

Prayer concerns
There is a new openness after very little real church growth for over a century. This has been brought about as a result of natural disasters, failure of the ruling class, economic melt down, increasing rebelliousness of young people and also the rise of anti-social and violent cults that have all provoked soul searching and even a questioning of Japanese value systems.

A resurgence of a nationalistic Shintoism has caused much hostility to anything un-Japanese. Pray for Christians to stand firm in Jesus and not compromise their faith under pressure.

The youth are turning away from the values and work ethics of their parents, and turning to materialistic pleasures, drugs and possessions rather than to the living God.

Lack of biblical teaching. Christians need complete renewal of their minds. The pervasive influence of the demonic world, philosophies and superstitions must be replaced by a vibrant theology and a head and heart knowledge of God's greatness and holiness.

Biblical training for Christian workers is provided by nearly 100 denominational and interdenominational seminaries and Bible schools in which around 3,000 are in full time training. The great hope for the future of the church is the high quality of many Japan's pastors and church leaders. May their numbers be mightily increased.

Of the 672 cities, there are still 9 without a church, and a further 77 have but one. Of the 2,568 towns of 15,000 - 30,000 people, 1,733 are without churches, and numerous rural areas are scarcely touched by the gospel.

(Excerpts and summaries from Operation World)