Japanese in Indonesia

Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Japanese
Country: Indonesia
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 14,000
World Population: 120,448,500
Primary Language: Japanese
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Christian Adherents: 2.30 %
Evangelicals: 0.50 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Japanese
Affinity Bloc: East Asian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Before World War II, few Japanese lived in Indonesia. When Japan invaded and took over Indonesia in 1942, the Japanese military and workers from Japanese companies came to Malaysia. After the war most of these Japanese returned to Japan, though some remained to help the Indonesians fight off the Dutch colonialists who tried to re-establish control.

The Japanese in Indonesia speak Japanese at home and English and Bahasa Indonesian at work. Many resources are available in Japanese including a complete Bible, the Jesus Film and internet programs.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today some Japanese people retire in Indonesia due to the low cost and warm weather. Also, Japanese businesspersons live in dozens of nations throughout the world. Japanese work in the manufacturing of electronics, banking and international trade. Many are managers and are among the most prosperous members of the countries of where they live. The poor in Indonesia sometimes resent the wealth and status of the Japanese living in their country.

The Japanese like to keep to themselves rather than mix with the Indonesians. Japanese parents strongly prefer than their children marry other Japanese, though there is some intermarriage. Today most Japanese young people choose their own spouses with the blessing of their parents. Monogamy is the norm for the Japanese. Most couples have a small number of children compared to Indonesian couples.

Most Japanese are Shinto Buddhists while most Indonesians are Muslims, creating a religious divide.

Most Japanese in Indonesia live in the major cities. Japanese day schools exist in several cities including Jakarta, the capital. Japanese parents want their children to attend top universities in Japan, Europe or the USA. The Japanese like to live in high rise flats near Japanese or international schools.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most Japanese are followers of Buddhism and Shintoism. Other Japanese are secular and claim no religion at all. Shintoism is the native religion of Japan. It is rooted in animism (belief that non-living objects have spirits). Its many gods or spirits are known as kami. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the sixth century. Today, most Japanese claim to be both Shinto and Buddhist. Traditions of Shintoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism have all contributed to Japanese religious principles: a reverence for ancestors; a belief in religious continuity of the family; a close tie between the nation and religion; a free exchange of ideas among religious systems; and religious practices centered on the use of prayer meditation, amulets, and purification. Unlike many Asian peoples, there has been only a minimal movement to Christ among the Japanese. Many Japanese are proud of their wealth and traditions, and see little need for the forgiveness from sins that Christ offers.

What Are Their Needs?

Japanese in Japan and Indonesia must see themselves as sinners. They must understand that pursuit of money and materialism will not bring them the peace and personal meaning they seek. Many Japanese are indifferent to and skeptical of established religions. On the outside, they seem to have few needs. However, many have become obsessed with materialistic pleasures, careers, and possessions. Their greatest need is to be introduced to the Father through His Son, Jesus.

Materialism is a poor substitute for spiritual needs. Many Japanese have lost sight of their true spiritual needs, which can only be met by Jesus Christ.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to call laborers to go to Indonesia and share Christ with the Japanese there.

Pray that Christian businessmen will have open doors to share the Gospel with the Japanese.

Pray the Lord leads the Japanese in Indonesia to read the Bible and listen to Christian radio programs.

Ask the Lord to raise up a church among the Japanese in Indonesia in the decade.

Text Source:   Joshua Project