In 1901 the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints sent its first missionaries to Japan. Just over 20 years later, the Church temporarily retreated from evangelizing in Asia. Author Reid L. Neilson sheds light on why those first representatives were sent to Japan and what led to the church's brief withdrawal from Japan and the rest of East Asia. He argues that the same nineteenth-century LDS theology, practices, and traditions that gave rise to the early LDS Japan Mission in 1901 were paradoxically also responsible for the eventual demise of the mission in 1924. The unvaried sense of evangelic propriety and practices hindered Mormon missionaries from adapting their message to the new and incredibly different cultures encountered in East Asia. This floundering on the part of church leaders and laity to adapt to the linguistic and cultural differences of Japan resulted in fewer conversions than in other contemporary LDS mission fields, and caused the LDS Japan Mission to struggle in comparison with other PRotestant missionary efforts among the Japanese.
Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901 - 1924 offers an extensive account of a not oft-mentioned point in Mormon history.
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations
Part I: Nineteenth-Century Explorations in Asia
1. Mormon Mappings of Asian Religions
2. Mormon Encounters with Asians
3. Euro-American Mormon Missionary Model
Part II: Twentieth-Century Challenges in Japan
4. Opening the Japan Mission
5. Mormon Missionary Practices in Japan
6. Temporary Retreat from Japan
Praise and Reviews:
“A significant contribution to scholarship and the mission history of this era. The work will be important to those interested in comparative mission history, early modern East Asia, and the rise of the international LDS church.”—Greg Gubler, Brigham Young University, Hawaii
“In the midst of increasing interest in missionary history, the early growth of the Mormon Church, and the internationalization of American religious traditions, this engaging study provides insight into the first attempts to spread LDS beliefs to Japan in the early twentieth century. An important and rich contribution to our understanding of Christian missionary history.”—Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
"An excellent and most interesting book.... Neilson's book is important. The reader gets the opportunity to interact with a fine mind as the writer wrestles with causal factors [of the low level of success of LDS missionaries in Japan.]"—Utah Historical Quarterly