chapter  3
26 Pages

Early Tokugawa anti-Christian discourse: Proclamations, populist literature and diplomacy

If a clash between autonomy and institutional authority was the immediate intellectual context of the outbreak of anti-Christian discourse in the seventeenth century, what was its immediate political context? And what was the general nature of Tokugawa anti-Christian discourse itself? This chapter gives an overview of the development of the literature from the beginning through to the middle of the seventeenth century, which has traditionally been identified as the main body of anti-Christian discourse – the ‘Japanese anti-Christian canon’, as it were. That overview begins with, and is set in the context of, an examination of the political reality of the actual banning and suppression of Christianity in Japan from around 1612. The popular image of seventeenth-century anti-Christian discourse is that it emerged from the banning of Christianity and functioned primarily in opposition to Christianity. A cursory examination of the relationship between the actual ban on Christianity and the nature of early anti-Christian discourse, however, presents a more complex picture.