16,000 people groups in the world today
2/3 of these people groups are unreached
127 million people live in Japan
Less than 0.2% are Christians
Japan is considered the world's largest modern unreached people group
The Japanese face many pressures from their society that create obstacles when presented with the Gospel.
Unlike the west, Japan is group-oriented in every way. The Japanese proverb, "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down" highlights the consequences of becoming anything outside what's culturally acceptable. This includes believing in Jesus.
The indigenous religion of Japan is Shinto - the religion that gives Japan the nickname "the land of 8 million gods". Japan during its early years acquired Buddhist practices as well. These are the majority religions. Though there are many devout followers of these faiths, many are nominal - only Shinto or Buddhist by name but not practice. This is due to the deep religious ties to Japanese culture and tradition.
Geisha girls, sumo matches, tales of samurai warfare are just a few examples that highlight the rich tradition of Japan. Many of these cultural traditions also have religious connotations that often make it difficult for Japanese to understand God's truth apart from what they know as part of their culture. It's common to hear a Japanese person say, "I'm Japanese, therefore I'm Buddhist."
80+ hour work weeks, school year-round and the drive to be successful reflect the vertical society the Japanese are continually pressured by. The busyness of life and the demands to bring honor to one's family make it difficult to have time for relationships, discipleship and involvement in church.
These pressures manifest into symptoms such as infidelity, depression and suicide. Japan ranks 2nd highest in the world for suicide rate.