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Unformatted text preview: who in 1875 climbed a hill in
their native domain of Kumamoto in Kyushu and pledged themselves to
Christianity and to propagation of the faith in order to dispel ignorance
and enlighten the people. These youths were students at a school for
Western studies in Kumamoto conducted by Leroy L. Janes, a West Point
graduate and former military officer in the American Civil War, and several of them went on to become distinguished spokesmen for Christianity in Japan. Although Tokutomi himself later renounced his formal ties
with the church, he retained the Protestant Christian belief in “inner
freedom” and the individual’s duty to use his independent conscience as
a guide to social and political behavior. It was on the basis of this belief
that he attacked the kind of Confucian morality the Meiji government
sought to inculcate in the primary schools from the 1880s on that called
upon all Japanese to give blind and unquestioning loyalty to the state.
The influence of Protestant Christianity on Japanese who came to
criticize the strongly statist policies of the government in the mid-Meiji
period can be seen not only in independent intellectuals like Tokutomi,
but also in many individuals who entered the sot movement after
its beginnings in the 1890s. In fact, a number of the most prominent
Christians in modern Japan have also been leading sots. Still other
Christians, however, were driven by the unfavorable climate for their Encounter with the West 254 views after the commencement of parliamentary government in 1890 to
withdraw entirely from the arena of political and social criticism and to
devote themselves to the private cultivation of their religion. The bestknown example of these Christians was Uchimura Kanzò (1861–1930).
Uchimura, the son of a samurai, attended a Christian-influenced
agricultural school in the northern island of Hokkaido and became a
student of Dr. William S. Clark, an American lay teacher who, like Janes
at Kumamoto, was successful in attracting young Japanese to the faith.
Later, Uchimura went to the United States to study at Amhe...
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- Spring '13