United Church of Christ in Japan
(Nippon Kirisuto Kyodan)
Protestant Christianity in Japan began with the work of missionaries from the American Presbyterian and Reformed churches who came to the country in 1858. The first Protestant church, the Nihon Kirisuto Kyokai (Presbyterian-Reformed) was established in Yokohama in 1872. At the 1890 synod meeting the confession of the Church of Christ in Japan was adopted. Later, other missionaries arrived from Europe and North America. With the promulgation of the religious organizations law, all Protestant churches had to become united. Unity was achieved at the Fujimicho Church in 1941. At the end of the second world war, the religious laws were abolished, and the Episcopal, Lutheran and parts of the Baptist and Holiness churches, with the Salvation Army, withdrew from the United Church. The majority of the ministers of the Nihon Kirisuto Kyokai wanted the United Church to become a federal union, but this proposal was rejected. In 1951, 39 congregations withdrew from the United Church and re-established the Nihon Kirisuto Kyokai. Its confession, published in 1953, is based on the confession of 1890.
The UCCJ reaffirms its determination to move forward towards true unity in Christ, the head of the Church. Standing on its confession of faith and its confession of responsibility in the second world war, the Kyodan endeavours to participate in its Lord's mission in history. The recent revision of the statement on its basic understanding concerning world mission seeks to articulate its present approach in its life and witness in the ecumenical context. Concrete examples include its efforts to deal with declining church attendance through a renewed emphasis on evangelism, especially towards youth, and covenants with sister churches in Switzerland, Korea, Taiwan and the Korean Christian Church in Japan.