Japan – Key to Reaching Asia
With a population of almost 128 million, Japan is only the tenth most populated country in the world. When most mission strategists talk about Asia they naturally think of nations like China and India because of their growing economic influence and huge populations. However Japan has been uniquely positioned by God to be a major influence throughout Asia in the twenty-first century. Japan is a leading force in business and economics, with major international banks and world-dominating companies in the electronics, technology and automotive industries. This year, China passed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world for the first time. However, while Japan is still a very close third economically, I would assert that Japan has an even greater power in its culture. Japanese culture is unique and fascinating. You can see the impact of this “culture export” all over the world but most especially in Asian countries. This cultural influence causes change in the youth and over time it becomes a powerful force to change the thinking and behavior in entire countries.
Even as I write this, Japanese creative minds are undeniably influencing the arts and media of many countries across the waters from her shores. Japan produces 80% of the world’s video animations, called anime. Other media include manga “comic books” and Japanese television. J-Pop music culture has penetrated throughout the world and Tokyo fashion is visible from Korea to Paris and everywhere in between. Styles from the streets of Harajuku, the famous fashion mecca in the heart of Tokyo, are said to strongly influence some of big-name fashion designers in Europe. Even Japanese food culture is influencing the world. The Japanese television cooking show “Iron Chef” has been popular for many years and this year, the venereable Michelin Guide, which annually rates the world’s best restaurants, proclaimed Tokyo “the world leader in gourmet dining” and awarded more than twice as many stars to gourmet establishments in Tokyo than to those in Paris, the former gourmet leader.The last century’s financial boom in Japan created one of the world’s highest standards of living. Because of the fat billfolds of the typical Japanese tourist, most Asian countries welcome a Japanese passport. Communist nations are open to Japanese tourism and business. Recently, even some pragmatic Islamic nations, looking to bolster their economic conditions, invite Japanese business and tourism. Japanese passports can easily go places that others cannot. In short, Japan has been positioned to reach into every Asian nation through exports, media, culture and also through individual Japanese citizens.
Tokyo – Key to Reaching Japan
The GDP of Tokyo alone is greater than the GDP of Canada. Over 25% of the entire population of Japan lives in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. This makes the Tokyo “mega-city” agglomeration 34,000,000 people and the largest agglomeration in the world. Tokyo is not only one of the largest cities in the world, but it is also one of the single largest unevangelized masses of humanity anywhere at any time in history (according to the Joshua Project, only the Islamic Shaiks of Bangladesh are a larger unreached people group). Over 3 million people per day travel through Shinjuku station in the center of Tokyo. If the Bible is true, 99% are headed for an eternal separation from God. This is unacceptable. We must redouble our efforts to understand and reach the largest city in the world.
The longer we wait, the more souls will be lost. On the other hand, if we can reach Tokyo the rewards are great. As I see it Tokyo is truly a “pearl of great price” which is worth the enormous cost to possess. If Tokyo experiences revival in the early 21st century, it will not only change Japan, it will change Asia and the uttermost parts of the earth.
Discipleship – Key to Reaching Tokyo
Exponential change is needed to penetrate and change the entire city. No existing single mega-church in the world is big enough to have the kind of influence that would truly change a city the size of Tokyo. Instead there must be multiplication of disciples, training of leaders, planting of churches which multiply like seeds growing and reproducing. This year marked 150 years of Protestant Mission to Japan. Because Japan is still more than 99% unreached, it might seem at a glance that nothing is happening. But Christianity has had a disproportionate affect on this nation since World War II. Many Christian educational institutions and hospitals stand as a testament its influence. Christianity is well-respected and is, in fact, regarded as one of the most true and virtuous religions. But as a wise Japanese pastor said publically at a recent Tokyo world mission symposium, “Japanese people put relationships above the truth.” We must find a way to show this people that the best thing they can do for their relationships is to embrace God’s Truth. Because Japan is culturally homogeneous and because of the deep relationship-base of the population it is possible to see a total shift towards Christianity in our generation. If true Japanese disciples with a heart to reach the lost can be made then it is possible that Japan could become a Christian nation very quickly. Jesus invested three years in His disciples and they multiplied and “turned the world upside down.” If a movement of young people in Tokyo can influence the worldwide fashion industry out of one train station at Harajuku then they can also influence their city to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If Tokyo is influenced by the Gospel then Japan as a nation will surely be influenced too. The only thing necessary for turning Japan upside down is some true disciples. The only thing necessary for making true disciples is one minister who is willing to be used by God. Lord, please use me.