|Things related to the Jesuits of the "Christian Century"|
|The prohibition Edict published on July24,1587 by Hideyoshi is still a curious document. The day before its publication, Fr. Coelho had visited Hideyoshi and according to his report, Hideyoshi treated the Missionaries kindly, giving them hope he would allow Christianity to be preached freely. Now, as it can be seen from the translation of the document below, the reasons for prohibition are not clear at all. In the first item we see only the Shinto teaching, in the second Shinto and Buddhist teaching, in the third, only Buddhist one. What really stands out clearly from the document is that Hideyoshi didn't want Christianity to be spread in Japan but he wanted the trade to keep on going.|
Hideyoshi's Prohibition Edict
1. Japan is the Land of the Kami (Shintoist Gods). The propagation from the Kirishitan Country of the pernicious teaching is to be rejected.
2. To approach people of our provinces and districts to make them into [Kirishitan] sectarians, making them to destroy the shrines of the gods and the temples of Buddha is a thing never heard before. Provinces, districts, estates, and stipends are granted in fief contingent upon the incumbent's observance of the laws of the Tenka (Central Government) and they should be kept always. But to corrupt and stir up the lower classes is outrageous.
3. It is the judgment of the Tenka that since the Bateren by means of their clever doctrine move parishioners as they please, the mentioned violation of the Buddhist Law in these Precincts of the Sun (Japan) has resulted. That being unacceptable, the Bateren will not be allowed to remain on Japanese soil. Within twenty days they must make their preparations and return to their country. Should there during this time appear among the lower classes villains who make unwarranted accusations against the Bateren, this shall be considered criminal.
4. The purpose of the Black Ships is trade, and that is a different matter. As years and months pass, trade may be carried on in all sort of articles.
5. From now on all those who do not disturb Buddhism (merchants as a matter of course, and all others as well) may freely travel from the Kirishitan Country and return. Act accordingly.
Text as above.
Tenshō 15/6/19. [24 July 1587]
|Anti-Christian Edicts (Edo Period) More details and pictures|
As the Tokugawa Regime (Bakufu) got stronger, a policy of anti-foreign thinking was enforced. The Christian teaching was a hindrance for the new regime that tried to appear as close to absolute power as possible. Even some pro-Christian lords became persecutors with the time. The Reward System and a clever communal responsibility legislation ended any open Christian activity. How could the Hidden Christians elude all this security net and keep their faith till the end of the persecution, is something still worth studying.
In 1612, the Tokugawa Regime published the Edict we translate below. In 1613 a new, more general prohibition was published, by which not only the Missionaries or Religious, but all their followers were suppose to change religion or get out of Japan. In 1638, after the Shimabara Rebellion, the system of reward and a more strict control was enforced.
This prohibition of Christianity was abolished in 1873, on the 6th year of the Meiji Government.
Tokugawa Prohibition EdictDecrees
1. The Overstaying, as it was already prohibited, is not to be tolerated and will be punished strictly, no matter if it is of a Samurai, a Fellow or a Servant.
2. The religion of the Bateren (Catholic Priests) is prohibited. Any transgression will be quickly processed as a crime.
3. The wounded, if they come from another place, are to be quickly interrogated and reported. Any kind of hiding will be considered a crime.
4. To smoke tobacco is strictly prohibited. If anyone sells or buys it, his family goods will be taken away. If someone is found selling tobacco in the streets, is to be detained and reported to the authorities for punishment.
Note: tobacco is not to be produced in other regions either
5. Cows are not to be killed. Any already killed cow should not be sold by any means.
These Decrees are to be surely published and enforced in the whole territory, so these are already Law.
"Laws of Lord Hidetada", Original in the Japanese National Diet Archive
|Text and translations by Renzo De Luca,sj|