Uchimura Kanzō - Japanese Religious Leader

Japanese Religious Leader

After his return to Japan, Uchimura worked as a teacher, but was fired or forced to resign in several instances over his uncompromising position toward authorities or foreign missionary bodies that controlled the schools. The most famous such incident was his refusal to bow deeply to the portrait of Emperor Meiji and the Imperial Rescript on Education in the formal ceremony held at the First Higher School (then preparatory division to the Tokyo Imperial University). Realizing that his religious beliefs were incompatible with a teaching career, he turned to writing, becoming senior columnist for the popular newspaper, Yorozu Chōhō. Uchimura's fame as a popular writer became solid as he launched a series of sharp criticism against industrialist Ichibei Furukawa over one of modern Japan's first industrial pollution cases involving Furukawa's Ashio Copper Mine.

Uchimura's career as a journalist was cut short as well, largely due to his pacifist views and vocal opposition against the Russo-Japanese War in his newspaper columns, which came into conflict with the paper's official editorial views. He started publishing and selling his own monthly magazine, Tokyo Zasshi (Tokyo Journal) and later Seisho no Kenkyu (Biblical Study), and supported himself by addressing weekly audiences of 500–1000 people in downtown Tokyo in lectures on the Bible. His followers came to share Uchimura’s attitude that an organized church was actually a hindrance to the Christian faith, and Christian sacraments, such as baptism and communion, are not essential to salvation. Uchimura named his Christian position as "Mukyokai" or Nonchurch Movement. Uchimura's movement attracted many students in Tokyo who later became influential figures in academia, industry, and literature. His "prophetic" views on religion, science, politics, and social issues became influential beyond his small group of followers.

His writings in English include: Japan and the Japanese (1894) and How I became a Christian (1895), and reflect his struggle to develop a Japanese form of Christianity. In his lifetime, Uchimura became famous overseas. His major English-language works were translated into numerous languages. After his death, however, Uchimura's reputation grew more, as his followers produced an enormous amount of literature.

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... Realizing that his religious beliefs were incompatible with a teaching career, he turned to writing, becoming senior columnist for the popular newspaper, Yorozu Chōhō ... was cut short as well, largely due to his pacifist views and vocal opposition against the Russo-Japanese War in his newspaper columns, which came into conflict with ... His writings in English include Japan and the Japanese (1894) and How I became a Christian (1895), and reflect his struggle to develop a Japanese form of Christianity ...

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