No. 739.
Mr. Hubbard to Mr. Bayard.

No. 513.]

Sir: I have the honor to inclose herewith a communication written by the Rev. Dr. C. S. Eby, a missionary of the Methodist Episcopal Church (Canadian mission), and of deservedly high standing in his own church as well as among Christians of all denominations in the Empire, on the subject of religious liberty in Japan.

The immediate cause of the letter inclosed, which was written to the Japan Mail, was a communication which had been published by a few native Christians, complaining that the Imperial Government had failed up to the present time to officially recognize the Christian religion.

The subject discussed by Dr. Eby and the facts recited by him will doubtless prove of interest to the Department of State, as well as to the American Christian public at large, especially in view of the tact that some months ago statements charging the Japanese Government with illiberality towards Christianity were published in certain American religious and news journals.

I have, etc.,

Richard B. Hubbard.
[Inclosure in No. 513.]

christians in japan.

To the Editor of the Japan Mail:

Sir: When the letter of complaint appeared, written by several well-known Japanese Christians, charging the Government with discriminating against Christians, or at least not properly protecting their rights, and asking you to champion their cause, I was—and I find that all to whom I have spoken were—filled with amazement. I have waited, thinking that perhaps some facts would be forthcoming to show some reason for the appeal, facts that had thus far escaped my knowledge. But as yet none have reached me. My experience as a Christian missionary for twelve years Leads me to admire the steady and steadily growing friendliness of the Government towards Christianity, coupled with a wonderful tact in gradually introducing into the country perfect religious liberty without arousing the active opposition of the old religions and of the masses who still cling to them, as certainly would have been done by a sudden and theatrical proclamation of the legality of the Christian faith. The Government, to my mind—and I believe the missionaries as a whole agree with me—has pursued, and is pursuing, the wisest possible course. Practically Christianity is free, as free in Japan as in any land on the face of the earth; for formal privilege the church can afford to wait a little.

I think most of the inconvenience to be found to-day arises either from purely local causes or from ignorance on the part of Christians of actual regulations to which they could appeal, or their want of applying to the proper authorities in case of hardship. For instance, in the matter of burying, some years ago a regulation was officially published giving relatives the right to bury with whatever service they chose. Almost the day after the regulation appeared I was in a country town when one of the members of the native church was to be buried. The official insisted on the old forms; the Buddhist priests claimed their time-honored rights; but the pastor pulled out or his pocket the paper in which the new regulations were published, and insisted on his newly-given right. The authorities and the priests had to give way to the published voice of the Central Government, and the funeral took place not only with Christian rites, but under the leadership of a foreigner. Ever since that time there has not been any difficulty whatever on that score within the bounds of our work.

There are certainly some disabilities under which the Christian Church as a corporation rests, but none that affect the practical working of any and every evangelistic [Page 1079] agency; and, so far as I can see, the trend of the Government is towards a complete removal of every remnant of discrimination. It is clearly the duty of Christians to do their utmost to fit the people for this larger liberty rather than agitate for premature proclamations. My chief regret in this matter is that the letter of complaint should have gone to the West without a strong statement on the other side, for I fear it will give another pretext to the persecution-hunters, still too common there; for “here is the plain unvarnished truth,” they will say, “and over the signatures of well-known Japanese, who appeal to the foreigner for help.” Shall we have a new tirade from the New York Nation?

Yours, truly,

C. S. Eby.