Nagasaki (AsiaNews) - The Japanese government's decision to advertise the presence of Christians in Nagasaki "is about the economy and tourism. It is to promote awareness of the historical sites connected with the Church. It has nothing to do with faith, but it is an excellent opportunity for the evangelization of the country. We really have to take advantage of this", says Msgr. Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, the Archbishop of Nagasaki, commenting on the new website launched by the local government to raise awareness of Japanese Christianity.
The site is called www.oratio.jp and thus far is only available in Japanese: versions will soon be published in both English and Korean. The purpose - admittedly - is to gain UNESCO "World Heritage" recognition for the churches and castles in the area by 2016. Built between the 16th and the 19th century, the 13 sites proposed to the UN also include Oura Cathedral, where Christians who had survived government persecution "reappeared".
According to a government official, "we placed emphasis on introducing the story of Christianity through the churches as places of prayer and in the manner in which people express their religious beliefs". In this site you will find 150 articles written by experts and residents of the area, which include the history of the churches and tourist attractions associated with them.
In this context Pope Francis' love for Japan and the recent visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the Vatican are certainly helpful: "The interest that the pontiff has for our country is moving and important. We need to take advantage of this historic moment of the Church, in which even Japanese society is interested in Catholics, to clarify our mission and explain the Church's presence in Japan".