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Japanese Culture and Western Influence

According to Sansom, the Japanese did not really alter their perception of God; the Jesuits altered their techniques of conversion, being confronted with the "problem of reconciling their own principles with other people's practices" (Sansom 123).

During this same period Japanese culture was engaged in a project of nascent nationalism under the military leader Nobunaga (1534-1583). This involved the rediscovery, or more exactly reformulation, of Confucianism as Neo-Confucianism, together with persecution of Buddhism (Tsunoda, et al. 313). The impulse toward political consolidation within Japan and rejection of Chinese influence seems to have enabled Nobunaga to portray something like tolerance for the presence of Western people and ideas. Tsunoda, et al., explain:

[C]ordiality toward the Christian missionaries newly arrived in Japan seems to have been inspired fundamentally by a desire to learn, but perversely also by his antipathy for traditional Buddhism. In any case his obvious admiration for the high intelligence and nobility of these intrepid Jesuits, as well as his generous treatment of them, won for Nobunaga the distinction of being the first great Japanese leader for whom Western accounts of Japan were to become important biographical sources (Tsunoda, et al. 313).

The early nationalism of the Japanese in their encounters with the West documented by Tsunoda, et al., may be attributed to the ethnocentrism of the Neo-Confucian thought that dominated the


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Japanese Culture and Western Influence. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 07:57, October 24, 2014, from
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