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What effect did the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki have on Japanese Christianity?

What effect did the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki have on Japanese Christianity?

Mari Shibata, an independent journalist in Japan, writes about the bombing of Urakami Cathedral and 84 year old parishioner, Shigemi Fukahori , who survived the atomic bomb because he’d taken the day off from Christian summer school to work at a factory.

The bombing largely killed non-combatants, and decimated the Christian community in Nagasaki; the Cathedral was the target for the attack, which killed more than 75% of the Christians in Nagasaki, through both primary and secondary effects of the bombs.

From the article:

A few years after the attack, Fukahori left for Tokyo to pursue his studies in theology at university. It was only upon his return after completing his studies that he had learnt of the weapon and saw first hand how it had affected his community; Christians who were regular attendees of the Urakami Cathedral and lived in the area.

“As the men were away fighting when the attack happened, it was the women and children who lived in these who suffered most in the years to come,” he recalls. “Many of the women I know had developed Keloid scars as a result of the radiation from the bomb. Most of these women are now dead; when they were alive, they would not come out of the house as they felt judged for their appearance. Many also chose to remain single, as they were also afraid they would give birth to disabled children.”

Writing for independent news outlet Consortium News, a retired physician, Gary G. Kohls, explores the contradictions of the attack; he notes that the bomber crew was composed entirely of Christians, and that they specifically were aiming for the Cathedral, because it was clearly visible from the air. His long-form piece explores the history of Christianity in Japan, the details of the attack, and the aftermath for Japanese Christianity.



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Leslie Marshall

Less than 1% of Japanese people are Christian. I imagine the number hasn’t changed since before WWII. Japanese people (an extremely homogeneous people group) worship nature & their ancestors. They have deep seated fears of upsetting family hierarchy , being shunned by family members, and not being revered in Old Age, or worshipped in death. They also fear becoming an evil spirit that will haunt their living relatives.

The Savior, asks them to surrender something….”Do not think I came to bring peace upon the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be members of his own household.” — MT10.35

“I tried so hard to perform and keep up, but failed. I was so ashamed of my depression. I was told, ‘Only you can save yourself!’. But I knew I could not save myself. When I accepted Christ, he delivered me from hopelessness. Now, He has made me a hope-giver.” –Miho B. (Tokyo Life Church, Ikebukuro, Japan)

Rod Gillis

Canada made a major contribution to allied atomic bomb development by supplying both uranium and heavy water. Canadian government cabinet minister C.D. Howe was the minister responsible for munitions material. How fitting that a right wing think tank now carries his name . The wholesale use of conventional and then atomic weapons by allied governments against civilian populations in enemy combatant countries in WWII is disturbing. Indeed, Bishop George Bell of Chichester opposed Churchill on the saturation bombing of civilians in Germany. Fast forward to American and Canadian bombing in Syria and one sees that not much has changed.

Philip B. Spivey

After the Native American genocide and African slavery, the atomic bomb attacks on Japan are two sins of the 20th century our nation can never redeem—non-combatant, brown women and children.

There is precious little space in the human heart for forgiving these sins, but repentance would certainly be in order; sad, that our nation has never sought repentance for any of them.

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