HIDDEN CHRISTIANS IN CONTEMPORARY NAGASAKI
The decision to remove all traces of Christianity from Japan was based to a large extent on political and economic considerations, but from an ideological standpoint it also signified the failure of Christianity to strike a bargain with the polytheistic religious attitude and magnanimous world view embraced by the Japanese. The method of suppression was extremely systematic, including efumi (the forcing of all Nagasaki citizens to trample on metal images of Christ or Mary), sonin hosho seido (monetary awards to persons revealing the names of Christians) and terauke seido (the compulsory registration of all Japanese citizens as parishioners of Buddhist temples). But despite this thoroughgoing policy of suppression, groups of tenacious Japanese followers went into hiding and kept the flame of Christianity burning for more than two centuries. In order to survive, these people had no choice but to abandon all the outward manifestations of Christianity and to assume the guise of Buddhists or Shintoists. But in their hearts they secretly observed the Christian faith generation after generation and were not discovered until 1865 when they disclosed their incredible secret to the French priest Bernard Petitjean in the Roman Catholic Church built that year by the French Catholic mission in the Oura foreign settlement.