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The Cross in the Dark Valley

The Canadian Protestant Missionary Movement in the Japanese Empire, 1931-1945

A. Hamish Ion

Publication Year: 1999

In this pioneer study, Ion investigates the experience of the Canadians who were part of the Protestant missionary movement in the Japanese Empire. He sheds new light on the dramatic challenges faced by foreign missionaries and Japanese Christians alike in what was the watershed period in the religious history of twentieth-century East Asia.

The Cross in the Dark Valley delivers significant lessons for Christian and missionary movements in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe which even now have to contend with oppression from authoritarian regimes and with hostility.

This new book by A. Hamish Ion, written with objectivity and scholarly competence, will be of interest to all scholars of Japanese-Canadian relations and missionary studies as well as to general historians.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. x

Many people have been kind enough to lend me their support and encouragement while I wrote this book, and it is my pleasure to thank them publicly. I am especially grateful to Professor Matsuzawa Hiroaki of the International Christian University, Tokyo, for his help and kindness over many years. I owe...


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pp. xi


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pp. xii-xvi

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pp. 1-8

The foreign missionary movement was a significant aspect of the history of Japan's international relations with the West during the early twentieth century. This book studies the end of the missionary age in the history of Japanese- Canadian international relations.1 Because Japan was an imperial power, this study also...

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CHAPTER ONE: Undertones of the Past

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pp. 9-34

The Protestant movement in Japan has always been small. During the 1930s, it numbered some 300,000 people.1 Yet, despite its size, an impressive nationwide network of Christian churches, schools, and organizations for social welfare gave the movement a visible presence in Japanese cities that belied its few members. Although...

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CHAPTER TWO: Toward the Kingdom of God: Evangelism and Social Concern in Japan

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pp. 35-56

It was against a changing background within the Japanese Protestant movement that the direct evangelistic work of Canadian missionaries in Japan was undertaken during the late 1920s and early 1930s. A major feature of these years was the union of evangelism and social concern that clearly manifested itself in the...

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CHAPTER THREE: On the Colonial Frontier

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pp. 57-80

"The United Church has in this strategic centre of the Orient one of her greatest opportunities for service."1 So thought the United Church of Canada in 1928 of its mission field in Korea, which constituted "an area of one-fourth of Korea and a population of 2,000,000 in that and adjoining areas." The geographical position of...

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CHAPTER FOUR: The Shrine Question

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pp. 81-112

The participation of Christians in state-sponsored Shinto ceremonies was a long-standing issue in Japan. The shrine question touched on sensitive topics for Japanese Christians such as their loyalty, patriotism, and attitude toward the emperor. During the 1930s, the Japanese government moved to increase its control over...

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CHAPTER FIVE: Educational Work in Japan

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pp. 113-141

Although Canadian missionaries in Japan came to grips with the problem of shrine attendance, they still faced challenges over their educational work. Mission schools in Japan were under pressure from the government to change from institutions dependent on Western support to Japanese Christian schools free from...

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CHAPTER SIX: Specialized Educational and Medical Work

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pp. 142-157

In addition to mission schools, Canadian missionaries developed more specialized institutions. Just as raising the status of the Kwansei Gakuin to a university circumvented government regulations that restricted the teaching of Christianity at the middle school level, specialized educational work offered missionaries...

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Contrast in the Colonies: Educational and Medical Work in Korea, Manchukuo, and Taiwan

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pp. 158-185

Whereas educational work in north Taiwan was curtailed by the shrine question and Government general pressure, United Church missionaries in Korea still struggled to maintain their educational work. The Canadian schools in Korea and over the Manchurian border, like their sister schools in Taiwan, had to conform to educational...

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CHAPTER EIGHT: Missionary Life in Japan and Its Empire

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pp. 186-209

The endeavours of missionaries in mission schools established the rhythm of missionary life, that largely followed the contours of the academic calendar. The long vacation during the hottest and most humid days of summer allowed the exodus of missionaries from the cities to the hill station of Karuizawa, with its temperate climate...

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CHAPTER NINE: Canadian Missionary Attitudes to Politics in Japan

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pp. 210-237

The Manchurian incident of 1931 showed that missionaries and Japanese Christians alike held strong views on the actions of the Japanese government and military. Yet, because the opinions of Canadian missionaries about events taking place in Chientao and Manchuria in the aftermath of the Manchurian incident also...

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CHAPTER TEN: Growing Pressure for Church Union in Japan

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pp. 238-271

As the international crisis in China and East Asia deepened during the late 1930s, the Japanese government intensified its efforts to bring Japanese religions, including Christianity, under its control. After the Marco Polo bridge incident in the summer of 1937, this control became part of the government's endeavour...

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Union and Withdrawal

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pp. 272-295

Despite Anglican rejection of church union, the Christian celebration of the 2,600th anniversary of the founding of the Japanese Empire went ahead on the campus of Aoyama Gakuin in Tokyo. The clear public signal given at this mass meeting—that church union was going to take place—set in motion the final negotiations...

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CHAPTER TWELVE: Into the Fires of War

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pp. 296-324

As the withdrawal of missionaries from the Japanese Empire was taking place in early 1941, a deputation of leading Japanese Christians travelled to the United States to explain the proposed church union and to try to make American Christians understand the difficulties that Japanese Christians faced. Although the...

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pp. 325-341

Canadian missionaries entered the 1930s with a considerable record of achievement behind them. As well as direct evangelistic work, missionary activity encompassed mission schools, hospitals, kindergarten-teacher training institutes, and social welfare organizations. Canadian missionaries took a prominent...


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pp. 343-398

Select Bibliography

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pp. 399-417


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pp. 418-428

E-ISBN-13: 9780889207592
Print-ISBN-13: 9780889202948
Print-ISBN-10: 088920294X

Page Count: 444
Publication Year: 1999