Japan and the Kings of the East

New trends from Japan.

By ANDREW N. NELSON, Religious Research Analyst, Tokyo, Japan

Japan's new constitution is now ready for action by the new Diet which will come into being in the coming election, the first free election that this country has seen since 1936, a decade ago. The new constitution is wonderful—I think the best in the world. Its religious-liberty clause is very fine. One striking feature of this new constitution is the absolute absence of provision for any army, navy, or air force whatsoever. It even goes so far as to prohibit the formation of such organizations in the future. The change that has taken place in this nation in the last few months is phenomenal. Truly marvelous things are happening before our very eyes as this perse­cuting, militaristic nation is being swiftly trans­formed into a nation of peace.

This situation will certainly bring to a sudden end the tendency that has persisted in some of our series of evangelistic meetings to portray Japan as the inevitable leader of the kings of the East as they head for the battle of Armageddon. And yet just the other day one of our earnest young soldier boys stated to me that in spite of the situ­ation in which Japan finds herself, he still has a firm belief that prophecy will be fulfilled, and that Japan will yet lead the nations of the East into the battle of Armageddon. I was rather startled when I heard him say that, for it shows how wide­spread and how definite has been the insistence on the part of some of our American evangelists that Japan is going to be the leader of the Eastern kings in the great final battle.

As I have often pointed out in private conver­sations, the prophecy does not say that Japan is to lead the nations of the East to Armageddon, no matter how plausible the theory that she would weld the Orient into one great force under her efficient leadership. Nor does the verse in question state that Japan and China, and India, for that matter, would even be on the same side in the battle of Armageddon. Leaving aside the new interpretation of the kings of the East, there is nothing whatever in the text to warrant our announcing to the world that Japan is to be the military leader of the Orient in the world's last world war. At most we were only justified in the past in stating that she would be included in those nations battling at Armageddon. Certainly the odds are now against Japan's rising up to lead out in such a struggle.

We should be careful not to read into unfulfilled prophecy important details that we may feel are implied therein. It might be proper to call at­tention to some possible developments. But cer­tainly, when presenting this or any other prophecy, we should avoid making dogmatic statements as to how the said prophecies are to be fulfilled when such are not expressly stated in the texts under consideration.

Today Japan lies prostrate at the feet of the victors. Tons and tons of explosives, planes, and weapons of war are still being destroyed daily. She is a nation without even the semblance of an army, navy, or air force, and she is now about to adopt a constitution forbidding such organiza­tions in the years to come. No matter what the future developments in Japan may be, statements in regard to her leadership of the kings of the East in the battle of Armageddon have always been out of place, and now appear ridiculous.

*Dr. Nelson is, for the time being, in charge of the Religious Research Unit in the Civil Information and Education Section of American General Headquarters, at Tokyo. He has been closely associated with Com­mander Bunce, who wrote the rescript which sounded the death knell to state Shintoism. Formerly principal of the Japan Junior College, then superintendent of the Japan Union Mission, and upon his return to the United States, dean of Emmanuel Missionary College, he is now under appointment from the Mission Board as president of the Philippine Union College, to which he will proceed after the General Conference session.

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By ANDREW N. NELSON, Religious Research Analyst, Tokyo, Japan

June 1946

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