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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Ieyasu is said to have remarked


It

may be easily conceived that the state of affairs in Europe at that time, when recounted to Ieyasu, could scarcely fail to shock and astonish the ruler of a country where freedom of conscience may be said to have always existed. The Inquisition and the stake; wholesale aggressions in the name of the Cross; a head of the Church whose authority extended to confiscation of the realms of heretical sovereigns; religious wars, and profound fanaticism--these were the elements of the story told to Ieyasu by his returned envoy. The details could not fail to produce an evil impression. Already his own observation had disclosed to the Tokugawa chief abundant evidence of the spirit of strife engendered by Christian dogma in those times. No sooner had the Franciscans and the Dominicans arrived in Japan than a fierce quarrel broke out between them and the Jesuits--a quarrel which even community of suffering could not compose. "Not less repellent was an attempt on the part of the Spaniards to dictate to Ieyasu the expulsion of all Hollanders from Japan, and an attempt on the part of the Jesuits to dictate the expulsion of the Spaniards. The former proposal, couched almost in the form of a demand, was twice formulated, and accompanied on the second occasion by a scarcely less insulting offer, namely, that Spanish men-of-war would be sent to Japan to burn all Dutch ships found in the ports of the empire. If in the face of proposals so contumelious of his authority Ieyasu preserved a calm and dignified
mein, merely replying that his country was open to all comers, and that, if other nations had quarrels among themselves, they must not take Japan for battle-ground, it is nevertheless unimaginable that he did not strongly resent such interference with his own independent foreign policy, and that he did not interpret it as foreshadowing a disturbance of the realm's peace by sectarian quarrels among Christians."*

*Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition; article "Japan," by Brinkley.

The repellent aspects under which Christianity thus presented itself to Ieyasu were supplemented by an act of fraud and forgery perpetrated in the interest of a Christian feudatory by a trusted official, himself a Christian. This experience persuaded the Tokugawa ruler that it was unsafe to employ Christians at his Court. He not only dismissed all those so employed, but also banished them from Yedo and forbade any feudal chief to harbour them. Another incident, not without influence, was connected with the survey of the Japanese coast by a Spanish mariner and a Franciscan friar. An envoy from New Spain (Mexico) had obtained permission for this survey, but "when the mariner (Sebastian) and the friar (Sotelo) hastened to carry out the project, Ieyasu asked Will Adams to explain this display of industry. The Englishman replied that such a proceeding would be regarded in Europe as an act of hostility, especially on the part of the Spaniards or Portuguese, whose aggressions were notorious. He added, in reply to further questions, that 'the Roman priesthood had been expelled from many parts of Germany, from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Holland, and England, and that, although his own country preserved the pure form of the Christian faith from which Spain and Portugal had deviated, yet neither English nor Dutch considered that that fact afforded them any reason to war with, or to annex, States which were not Christian solely for the reason that they were non-Christian.'"* Hearing these things from Will Adams, Ieyasu is said to have remarked, "If the sovereigns of Europe do not tolerate these priests, I do them no wrong if I refuse to tolerate them."

*Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition; article "Japan," by Brinkley.


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