The below information about Japan was used by permission from Japan Gospel Penetration Network (JGPNetwork.org)
Japan is comprised principally of four main islands and the southern island of Okinawa. Located in the northwest corner of the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of China and Korea, it is the home to over 127 million Japanese. About one-quarter of the population is concentrated in the greater Tokyo area, the world's largest metropolis. Another 25 percent is concentrated in three other major metropolitan areas. Japan has one of the highest population densities in the world, with 536 people per square mile.
Culturally the Japanese are one of the most homogenous people groups in the world. Over 99 percent of the people are Japanese and more than half of the non Japanese population is Korean. In 2002, Japan had the lowest birth rate since World War II. Japan is an aging society. Eighteen and one half percent of the population is over sixty five years old. This is the only age bracket that is growing in Japan.
Japan is also one of the least evangelized countries. Many Japanese are indifferent and skeptical toward organized religion. Yet, about 84% of Japanese claim to adhere to both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs. While 36 percent believe there is life after death, about 36 percent believe that death is the end. Shinto is the native religion of Japan and the Emperor of Japan is thought to be the high priest. Shinto is rooted in animism and its many millions of gods or spirits are known as kami. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the sixth century and is influential because of its emphasis on ancestor worship. Less than .5% of the Japanese are Christian, which means less than 1 in every 200 people is a Christian.
There is dissatisfaction with the present and despair about the future, although outwardly they seem to have few needs and are often obsessed with pleasure, money and peer group opinion. Bullying at school, entrance exams, and peer pressure lead to fear among children and youth. Family life is in a period of unprecedented crisis. Divorce and suicide rates are escalating at an alarming pace. About a third of married women confess to having at least one abortion. The prolonged recession which began in the early 1990’s causes major fear in adult males. Approximately six hundred Japanese kill themselves each week. In the last decade, the suicide rate among men has increased nearly seventy percent. Most of these are among men in their forty’s and fifty’s. Japan has the highest suicide rate in the developed world.
Japan is in what missiologists call the 10/40 Window. Although most countries in this area are not free to evangelize, we are totally free in Japan to share the gospel. However, Japanese have little concept of sin except as it relates to a man centered view of right and wrong. This is a major barrier to evangelism.