Divorcing the West: A Reinterpretation of Japanese Christian Anti-Western Thinking in the Case of the Japanese YMCA (1880-1945)
Recent scholarship has noted that the anti-Japanese position of the Western powers in WWII contributed to a reduction of foreign influence in the Japanese Christian community. In this paper, I propose that focusing solely on political factors overlooks the underlying conflict between foreign missionaries and Japanese Christians. I examine this suggestion through a case study of the Japanese YMCA from 1880 to 1945. While rising militarism exerted pressure on Japanese society during WWII, the anti-Western mindset within the Japanese YMCA was not without historical causes, such as the demand for local autonomy and theological differences. By looking at the relationship between foreign missionaries and local agents in the Japanese YMCA during WWII, I argue that the anti-Western attitude of the latter was part of a process of continuous development of decades-long cooperation with and struggle for independence from foreign missionaries.
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