The Japanese are one of the most unreached people groups in the world. Less than 1% of the 126 million Japanese people are Christians. The vast majority have not heard the gospel message. 1,700 of the 2,500 towns of up to 30,000 residents have no church. There are about 7,900 churches with an average attendance of 35 people, amounting to one church for 16,000 people. 84% of Japanese claim to adhere to Shinto and Buddhism, but most are superstitious and unsure of their beliefs. Feelings of hopelessness and isolation have caused many to turn to suicide, which is the leading cause of death among 15 to 39 year olds. Over 25,000 people commit suicide annually, amounting to about 70 people per day! Many feel empty and are in search of some sort of purpose and meaning in life. Japan has about 183,000 registered cult groups and is known by some as the cult capital of the world. A moral vacuum has caused many to turn to living for the moment and indulging in various pleasures to find an escape. Alcoholism, drug addiction and addiction to video games and social media have become major social problems. Japan is the #1 provider of child pornography, and abortion is commonly used as a means of birth control.

Social Pressure

Obligation to satisfy the demands of employers in a culture where conformity is a moral obligation makes it hard for polite, hard-working Japanese to openly accept the responsibilities that they feel would be placed on them by following the teachings of the gospel. Youth are turning away from the values and work ethic of their parents, and are embracing materialistic pleasures rather than the true and living God. Demonic forces associated with idolatry in temples and ancestor worship in homes have never been decisively challenged. The social pressure to compromise and commit idolatry is very strong.

Problem of Hopelessness

A serious problem facing all ages of society in Japan is hopelessness. Many feel helpless and have no sense of purpose. 11% of Japanese wish that they had never been born. 85% of young people wonder why they exist. After World War II, Emperor Hirohito declared to the nation that he was not a god. This resulted in a deep sense of loss and betrayal, which caused most to feel utterly hopeless and skeptical of putting their trust in any god or religion. Hopelessness is also the result of the teaching of evolution in the schools and the conclusion that men are no more than part of the animal kingdom. The solution to this hopelessness can only be found in Creator God.


Mission to the World is the mission sending agency of the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). Mission to the World sends nearly 700 Christian workers to 97 countries all over the world who are committed to the establishment, growth, and maturity of the church. All that we do flows into, rests within, or flow out of the local church.