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In 1542, the very first Europeans from Portugal landed on Kyushu in western Japan. They brought with them foreign trade, especially new weapons, as well as Jesuit missionaries. As the Japanese barons on Kyushu wanted to keep the trade, they tolerated the missionaries. Due to this main reason, Christianity managed to enjoy an initial success of converting quite a large number of people in western Japan, which included members of the ruling class.

In 1549, Francis Xavier, a Jesuit missionary, brought the mission to Kyoto. The religion flourished and was accepted as a religion throughout Japan, especially during the reign of Oda Nobunaga, who had succeeded in unifying Japan in 1569.

Toward the end of the 16th Century, however, Christianity began losing its standing. An edict was issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to forbid the propagation of Christianity and ordered all missionaries out of Japan. In 1597, 26 missionaries were executed as a warning. Tokugawa Ieyasu and his successors continued the persecution of Christianity through several other edicts. Due to all these oppressions, organized Christianity finally came to an end in the 17th Century.

The arrival of French missionaries in 1859 after the opening of Japan brought with it the knowledge that some Christians still existed in Japan. After the Meiji restoration in 1873, the freedom of religion was advocated. And ever since World War II, the number of Japanese Christians has increased.

Christianity continues to be a minority religion in today's Japan. About 1% of Japan's population consider themselves Christians. Most of them live in western Japan, where the missionaries' activities were at their greatest. There are a few Christian customs that have become quite popular in Japan, even among the non-Christians. The celebration of Christmas and even the wearing of white dresses at weddings are examples of Christians' customs.

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