The Catholic Church in Japan, the latest statistics (Overview)
The Japanese Episcopal Conference has published the latest numbers regarding the Catholic presence in the country: for a third consecutive year figures supersede 450 thousand.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) –   There are 452,571 Catholics in Japan.  That figure is contained in a document entitled “Statistics on the Catholic Church in Japan” for the year ending 2006, recently published by the Japanese Bishop’s Conference.  The figure includes lay and religious; and is similar to that registered in 2005: thus for the third consecutive year the number of Catholics supersedes 450 thousand.

60% of Japanese Catholics are women, while those not present on parish registers, a data which is particularly relevant in the case of foreigners.

The Archdiocese of Tokyo has the greatest number of faithful followed by Nagasaki, Osaka and Yokohama. By the end of 2006 there were 1,553 bishops and priests, 926 Japanese, 627 non nationals. There are 38 deacons, 28 of whom are Japanese; 138 seminarians and 58 men are attending preparatory courses to enter the seminary.  One Catholic in 75 belong to a female religious institute: there are 6,060 religious sisters in the land of the rising sun.  There are 201 men religious, 147 Japanese 54 from abroad.

Last year 7,193 baptisms were celebrated, 3, 692 were adult baptisms 3,501 children younger than 7.  Compared to 5 years ago, there has been a decrease of 1476 units, while catechumens number 5,414. In 2006, 4,511 people received first communion, 4,790 were confirmed. The average number of congregants at Sunday mass is 119,988; during Easter the churches hosted 205,804 faithful, 277.950 at Christians.

3130 weddings were celebrated, 9% of (285) between catholic couples.  Most of the celebrations (1.465) joined a catholic to an atheist or follower of another religion.  Unions between non catholic couples stands at 1.252, while marriages between Catholics and Christians of other communions were far less (only 128). In total the number of weddings celebrated in Church was less than half those registered in 2001, which reached 6,393.