Japanese in United States

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Expanded PDF Profile

Introduction / History

The United States of America is home to the third highest population of Japanese people of any country outside of Japan, according to the statistics found on the IMB's website, PeopleGroups. The history of Japanese in what is now the United States began in the mid to late nineteenth century, when the gannenmono, which means "first year people" or "first generation," arrived in Honolulu to try to earn a living working on farms and plantations. These first migrants from Japan experienced harsh treatment and living conditions. They were paid to work, but they were treated much like slaves, to the point that some members of the first groups of Japanese returned to Japan early. However, many of them stayed and continued on to the mainland to find work in places like San Francisco and San Jose, where they were objects of racism. This racism went on for many years, climaxing during World War II with the introduction of relocation camps, into which prominent Japanese in the western United States were held until the end of the war. After the war, conditions became better for Japanese people in America. They continue to play a large role in the American society.

Where Are they Located?

A large number of these Japanese Americans live in Hawaii, as well as on the west coast of the forty-eight contiguous states, though there are many who live all over the United States. Most Japanese people in America live in the urban areas and large cities.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Japanese Americans live lives that are much like the lives of other Americans, though first and second-generation immigrants have held to many of their cultural traditions. Most of these traditions have been contextualized to fit more with their American cultural context. Japanese in America usually have a strong emphasis on family. They often focus on the "oyako, parent-child relations that stress reciprocal obligation." The Japanese American familial structure is traditionally nuclear, and the mother is the primary caretaker of the children and household duties, while the father is the bread winner. One difference between Japanese Americans and other Americans is that it is common for more than just one family unit to live under the same roof. Cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles often live together in the same house.

Marriage and death are two of the most important occasions in the lives of Japanese in America. Due to their strong family emphasis, they see marriage as more of a joining together of two families into one, rather than simply just the husband and wife.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of Japanese people in America are either Christian or Buddhist. If they are Buddhist, then their beliefs were probably handed down from their ancestors in Japan. Religious pluralism is common in Japan, so the type of Buddhism a Japanese person adheres to is usually a blend of Shinto and Buddhism. It can be inferred that the same is true for many of their Japanese American descendants. In addition to this, Japanese Americans have a notable percentage of people with no religious affiliation.

What Are Their Needs?

These facts indicate the increasing need for Christians who are willing to live like Jesus among this people and preach the good news among them. Japanese Americans, because of their pluralistic mindsets, need Christians who will explain that following Jesus is not just another aspect of religious life, but that He is Life. As with anyone coming from a country that speaks a different language, first generation Japanese immigrants need basic training in the English language and help getting acclimated to their new culture.

Prayer Points

* Scripture Prayers for the Japanese in United States.

* Pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would specifically call believers to boldly and intentionally speak and live the good news among Japanese Americans without fear. Ask Him if that is His will for you.
* Pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would continue to work in the hearts of Japanese in America who do not know Him, that they may come to know Him.
* Pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would give His wisdom to those who are and will be working among this people group, so that the workers can best know how to minister and witness to them.

Profile Source:   Dillon Hughes  
Expanded PDF Profile

Additional Info
Global Prayer Digest: 2007-05-23
People Name General Japanese
People Name in Country Japanese
Population this Country 844,000
Population all Countries 122,406,000
Total Countries 44
Indigenous No
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 2  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 17
Alternate Names Ko; Nihonjin; Nikkei; जपानीस
People ID 12322
ROP3 Code 104189
Country United States
Region America, North and Caribbean
Continent North America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Country United States
Region America, North and Caribbean
Continent North America
10/40 Window No
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked

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Primary Language Japanese (844,000 speakers)
Language Code jpn   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Japanese (844,000 speakers)
Language Code jpn   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Japanese

Primary Language:  Japanese

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1837-1992)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1879-1993)
Bible-Complete Yes  (1883-2018)
Bible-NT Audio Online
Bible-NT Text Online
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching (GRN)
Audio Recordings Christ for the Nations
Audio Recordings Online New Testament (FCBH)
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video Father's Love Letter
Film / Video God's Story Video
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Japanese
Film / Video LUMO film of Gospels
Film / Video Magdalena (Jesus Film Project)
Film / Video My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime)
Film / Video Story of Jesus for Children (JF Project)
Film / Video The Hope Video
Film / Video The Prophets' Story
General Four Spiritual Laws
General Got Questions Ministry
Text / Printed Matter Bible Gateway Scripture
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Biblica Japanese
Text / Printed Matter Bible: Colloquial Japanese (1955)
Text / Printed Matter Cartoon Gospel tract
Text / Printed Matter OneHope resources for children and youth
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
69.50 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.50 %)
1.50 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
5.00 %
Other / Small
24.00 %
0.00 %
Christian Segments Percent
3.0 %
16.0 %
2.0 %
Other Christian
24.0 %
29.0 %
Roman Catholic
26.0 %
Photo Source Pixabay  Creative Commons  Used with permission
Profile Source Dillon Hughes  
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Read more


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