- 公益財団法人 史学会
- 史学雑誌 (ISSN:00182478)
- vol.86, no.2, pp.177-195,242-24, 1977-02-20 (Released:2017-10-05)
In March Cf 1868, the Meiji government's regulations against Christianity were made public. These new regulations in terms of content were inherited directly from the Bakufu. This decision was due to the complicated state of national affairs which included attacks on the government by the remnants of the Bakufu army and the ongoing clashes between foreigners and anti-foreigners. However, once these regulations were issued as law, the government had to preserve them, lest any change weaken its own authority and become a source of criticism against the government by those elements opposed to the new Meiji regime. The exiling of the thirty-four hundred Christians from Urakami Village in Nagasaki was the largest concession the Meiji government could make to foreign countries. This decision was implemented in December of 1869 despite delays resulting from the war. At first, the regulations concerning Christianity had no connection with the plan to make Shinto the established religion. However, this link was made during the government's efforts to retain the anti-Christian regulations. Accordingly, though the government promised generous treatment to foreigners after the Urakami villagers had been exiled, the government did not have any concrete plans to carry out its promise. Only in the fall of 1870 did Christianity become a subject of lively debate in the government, and that was simply because there was a fear of a problem possibly taking place in Kagoshima, the home of many important people in the government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which had been receiving a constant stream of protests from foreign countries, understood that the problem of Christianity in Japan was an important one in foreign affairs. Yet, it had little power in the government and so did not participate in the making of government policy decisions concerning this issue. Nonetheless, the Foreign Ministry had continued to appeal to the government to keep the promises it had made to other countries. In the spring of 1871 the central government's suppression of the rebel forces ended in success. In July of the same year the "han" system was dissolved and replaced by the "ken" system of local government. As the government continued to centralize power and to institute organizational changes in the governmental system, it then began to show its willingness to change its policy by its handling of the Imari Incident in Saga and its release of those Urakami villagers who had given up their belief in Christianity. Also emerging at this time were demands for the end of any anti-Christian regulations by members of Japanese governmental missions in Europe and America. In February of 1872 when the government's concern over the discontented elements in Japan had come to an end, the enforcing of anti-Christian regulations also came to an end. In this way we can see that while the Meiji government's policy towards Christianity was a concern of Japanese foreign policy, essentially it was influenced more by domestic political factors and changes during this Period.