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100 years ago: Japanese fortitude

15 September 2023

September 14th, 1923.

IT HAS been observed with truth and acumen that there could have been no greater proof of the completeness of the catastrophe in Japan, and of the isolation in which it placed vital centres of her national life, than the inability of eager Press correspondents to get their despatches through, by any means, to a waiting world. Now that the silence of several days has been broken, and the detailed reports are coming through, we know that history has recorded neither deeper suffering nor a more steadfast bearing of pain and loss. To that every despatch, with its details of patience and heroism, bears abundant witness. The Bishop of Southampton, late Bishop in South Tokyo, writes to the Times to say that this is but what might be expected of the Japanese. In times of catastrophe they are at their best. The Far East has its stoicism; with the Japanese Christians it is something more. Not temperament, but cultural training gives the Japanese self-control. They are disciplined to die at their posts, as many have lately done in fire and flood. They will mobilize in response to every demand made upon them in the name of patriotism, none will stop to argue or weep. In that, we may be allowed to say, they resemble the British, who are at their best when faced by terrible odds, and whose spirit rises with adversity. Is it too much to suggest that this similarity in one point may lend a special force to the presentation of the Faith to Japan by English missionaries? There have been times when the Japanese missions have seemed disappointing; in the history of the past fortnight we may find a new encouragement and stimulus.

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