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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Hideyoshi agreed to tolerate the Christian propagandists



The Jesuits, of whom it must be said that they never consulted their own safety when the cause of their faith could be advanced by self-sacrifice, paid no attention to the Taiko's edict. They did indeed assemble at Hirado to the number of 120, but when they received orders to embark at once, they decided that only those needed for service in China should leave Japan. The rest remained and continued to perform their religious duties as usual, under the protection of the converted feudatories. The latter also appear to have concluded that it was not necessary to follow Hideyoshi's injunctions strictly concerning the expulsion of the priests. It seemed, at first, as though nothing short of extermination was contemplated by the Taiko. He caused all the churches in Kyoto, Osaka, and Sakai to be pulled down, and he sent troops to raze the Christian places of worship in Kyushu. But the troops accepted gifts offered to them by the feudatories and left the churches standing, while Hideyoshi not only failed to enforce his edict, but also allowed himself in the following year, 1588, to be convinced by a Portuguese envoy that unless the missionaries were suffered to remain, oversea trade could not possibly be carried on in a peaceful and orderly manner. For the sake of that trade, Hideyoshi agreed to tolerate the Christian propagandists, and, for a time, the foreign faith continued to flourish in Kyushu and found a favourable field

even in Kyoto.

At this time, in response to a message from the Jesuits, the viceroy of the Indies sent an ambassador to thank Hideyoshi for the favours he had hitherto bestowed upon the missionaries, and in the train of this nominally secular embassy came a number of fresh Jesuits to labour in the Japanese field. The ambassador was Valegnani, a man of profound tact. Acting upon the Taiko's unequivocal hints, Valegnani caused the missionaries to divest their work of all ostentatious features and to comport themselves with the utmost circumspection, so that official attention should not be attracted by any salient evidences of Christian propagandism. Indeed, at this very time, as stated above, Hideyoshi took a step which plainly showed that he valued the continuance of trade much more highly than the extirpation of Christianity. "Being assured that Portuguese merchants could not frequent Japan unless they found Christian priests there, he consented to sanction the presence of a limited number of Jesuits," though he was far too shrewd to imagine that their services could be limited to men of their own nationality, and too clever to forget that these very Portuguese, who professed to attach so much importance to religious ministrations, were the same men whose flagrant outrages the fathers declared themselves powerless to check. If any further evidence were needed of Hideyoshi's discrimination between trade and religion, it is furnished by his despatches to the viceroy of the Indies written in 1591:--

The fathers of the Company, as they are called, have come to these islands to teach another religion here; but as that of the Kami is too surely founded to be abolished, this new law can serve only to introduce into Japan a diversity of cults prejudicial to the welfare of the State. It is for this reason that, by Imperial edict, I have forbidden these foreign doctors to continue to preach their doctrine. I have even ordered them to quit Japan, and I am resolved no longer to allow any one of them to come here to spread new opinions. I nevertheless desire that trade between you and us should always be on the same footing [as before]. I shall have every care that the ways are free by sea and land: I have freed them from all pirates and brigands. The Portuguese will be able to traffic with my subjects, and I will in no wise suffer any one to do them the least wrong.

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