Japan faces a cultural crisis; believers ready themselves for new ministry.

By July 29, 2004

Japan (MNN)–The rich layers of Japanese culture appear to be giving way to a pop culture of icons. Changing family roles have added to the confusion, resulting in a crisis that challenges decades of tradition.

This is most reflected in the ripples of discord seen and felt from the Imperial Palace. Normally the face of the Japanese culture, today’s Crown Prince and family are showing the human side of a very distressed royal family.

Rumor of divorce appears to scandalizing the traditionalists. However, sociologists watching the general shifts in Japan’s culture say this is merely a reflection of the drift in society.

Birth rates are notably down as young women are breaking out of their societal roles as housewives and mothers. Many are opting for a single life with career.

On top of that, Japan’s economy is struggling to return to the powerhouse stage of two decades ago. The money of that period led to a ‘materialism age’, vestiges of which are still being felt.

The shock wave of the economic crisis Japan faced in the last decade shook more than the foundation of the society. The latest statistics show that every day nearly 100 people take their own lives, at a rate of almost one every 15 minutes. All told, the situation is making many reconsider their beliefs.

OMS International’s David Meek says their team made some of the same cultural observations. “For many years, Japan has seemed to be quite stable. The divorce rate has been low, the crime rate has been low, but there have been problems that have existed under the surface, and now those problems are coming to the surface. People are beginning to ask, ‘What’s wrong with Japanese society?'”

Meek says that opens the doors for new ministry opportunities. In fact, OMS hopes to expand in the community with the help of the indigenous church. “This is opening doors to the church to share through ministry directed at families, ministries that deal with some of the concerns that people have about their marriages and their families. That’s one area that we want to get involved in more and more.”

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