Japan And The Jewish People

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Although much research has taken place on the involvement of Japan in WWII, only limited research has been conducted into the connection between Japan and the Jewish people who were being prosecuted at the time. This paper aims to produce further acknowledgement and understanding of the history of the Jewish people in Japan, as well as give a different perspective on Japanese views and ideas of the period and strive to correct any misconceptions that may be strongly held since Japan’s defeat in 1945. Throughout Japan’s history, foreigners have been regarded with alternating reverence and contempt, as benevolent gods and threatening demons (Goodman and Miyazawa, 1995). So substantial was this ambivalence that it evolved into a major feature of Japanese religion, whose deities are often interpreted as ‘visitors from afar’ (Goodman and Miyazawa, 1995). These deities would be waited upon until they could give their blessings to the Japanese people, and would then be ushered away. Japanese attitudes towards the Jews and foreigners in general have always followed this basic pattern, even in the present day. Foreigners are seen as visitors to be admired and revered or criticized and expelled depending on the fluctuating needs of Japan (Goodman and Miyazawa, 1995).
In 1635, fearing a military conquest by foreign powers, Japan expelled most missionaries, traders and foreigners and began a period of isolation, Sakoku, that would last more than 200 years. However during this supposed
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