Edict expelling Jesuit missionaries (バテレン追放令)

The Edict expelling Jesuit missionaries was a prohibition document concerning the mission of Christianity and trade with Spain and Portugal issued by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in Chikuzen Hakozaki, in July 24, 1587.

The original can be found in the "Documents of the Matsuura Family" and is owned by the Matsuura Historical Museum in Hirado City, Nagasaki Prefecture. The document called 'Edict expelling Jesuit missionaries' usually indicates the Document of Five Articles dated June 19 (hereafter 'Expelling edict') incorporated in the "Documents of the Matsuura Family," but note that occasionally a Memorandum of Eleven Articles dated June 18 in "Goshuin Shishoku Kokaku" (a collection of copied documents concerning Iicenses and practices of onshi, ushers at the Ise Shrine) discovered in the Jingu Library of Ise Jingu Shrine in 1933 (hereafter 'Memorandum') is also included. Moreover, it has been discussed in many ways concerning the reason for the differences from the Expelling edict of Five Articles and the meaning of two documents ever since the latter Memorandum of Eleven Articles was discovered.

Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI originally inherited the policy of Nobunaga ODA and approved the Christian mission. He gave an audience to Gaspar Coelho, a missionary of the Society of Jesus, in Osaka Castle on March 16, 1586 and issued a permit for the mission on May 4 of the same year.

However, after suppression in Kyushu, he announced restrictions on the Christian mission while staying in Hakata Hakozaki in July 24, 1587 and handed over a statement to expel the missionaries and have freedom of trade to Domingos Monteiro (Capitão-mór) in charge of commerce from the Portugal side who stayed there and to Coelho in charge of the Japan division in the Society of Jesus of that time.

Concretely the following is described, that is, it is not appropriate to Christianize Japan, the land of the Shinto gods, it is forbidden to form a group of Christians and believersm, to destroy shrines and temples, and the missionaries should leave Japan within twenty days, and at the same time this edict does not prevent trade with Spain and Portugal and there are no restrictions on foreign merchants who have not come to spread Christianity in Japan.

However, he threatened to punish those seizing the opportunity to harm missionaries and did not prohibit any one from believing Christianity in accordance with one's own will, but prohibited forcing conversion to Christianity, and also a domain lord with a certain amount of domain should submit to the approval system when converting to Christianity (Hideyoshi's permission is required) so, even this is not prohibited. It should be noted that the Christianity itself was not prohibited, not oppressed nor persecuted at this time.

Cause of Expelling edict Various theories and argumentation

There are various theories about the issuing of this Expelling edict and the cause could be that Hideyoshi was furious at the residents rejecting his order to bring a woman of Arima because she was Christian, that Coelho, Vice-Provincial of the Society of Jesus in Japan at that time boasted as if the Spanish Armada was under his command in front of Hideyoshi during the expedition to Kyusyu, that the Christian feudal lords such as ARIMA and OMURA in Kyushu destroyed shrines and temples as well as persecuted monks and made huge donations to the churches, and that the Society of Jesus did not obey when he tried to apply the policy to Nagasaki, the domain of the Society, they dissolved the old domains of temples and shrines inherited from Nobunaga ODA and place them under a unified regime, and that some of the missionaries conducted human trafficking (selling the Japanese to outside Japan as slaves).

Moreover, Luis Frois described in "Historia de Japan" (History of Japan) that Hideyoshi was furious due to a female issue, but he was often biased toward not only Hideyoshi, but also those against Christianity, therefore, it is necessary take that into consideration. Alessandro Valignano, a missionary stayed in Japan during the same period strongly criticized the careless conduct of Coelho, and it seems to be certain that his conduct was really problematic. As to the human trafficking theory, there is one sentence in "Goshuin Shishoku Kokaku" prohibiting the selling of Japanese to the southern barbarians by the Japanese, but there is no material other than this and the content is 'to Great Tang, southern Europe, and Goryeo,' not written with regard 'to the missionaries'. It is a absolute fact that Sumitada OMURA, a domain lord in Kyushu, forced the domain people convert to the Christianity and destroyed temples and shrines.

Nowadays the main reasons could be that the expansion of Christianity in Kyushu was feared to transfigure political and military aspects like Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) of that time, and Christians were also regulated as 'eight schools and nine schools' (Article Nine) and Christianity was regarded as a religion under the regime in the Memorandum on June 18, but was strictly regulated again as though it would 'spread evil belief' like reversing this in the Expelling edict on June 19.

That is, including Christians in the addition of 'eight schools and nine schools,' it was probably intended to place the Society of Jesus under Hideyoshi's political dominance in exchange for protection of faith and grant of a domain as in the case of Hongan-ji Temple and Kongobuji Temple, and Historian Masaki ANNO said that the cause could be 'a conflict between the Christian ideology and the unification concept of the Hideyoshi regime.'

After the Expelling edict

The missionaries of the Society of Jesus received the prohibition edict gathered in Hirado and withheld official mission activities after that. Hideyoshi destroyed the Kyoto Church (Nanban-dera Temple) and confiscated the diplomatic offices and churches in Nagasaki, but did not uncompromisingly prohibit Christianity itself more than that because he highly regarded the practical gains brought by trade with Spain and Portugal. It was after the San Felipe Ship incident that Hideyoshi calcified against the Christianity.

Christianity was practically prohibited in Japan after the Ban on Christianity was issued in 1614 ordered by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and his prohibition edict also basically followed this Edict expelling the missionaries by Hideyoshi in the wording.

The original text of the 'Edict expelling Jesuit missionaries'
The original text of the Expelling Edict dated June 19 remaining in the 'Documents of the Matsuura Family' follows:

1. Japan is the land of gods, and thereby it is not possible to accept the evil belief from the Christian countries. 1. It is unprecedented that they made the domain people their believers, destroyed shrines and temples, and places of living, enfeoffment, and other things that have been done only for the time being. Obey Acts by the realm, making anything possible and doing ad arbitrium are vile for people of low ranks.

1. The missionaries held temples' supporters with their wits as they desired and destroyed the Buddhist law, therefore, they should not be allowed in the land of Japan, and should prepare to leave and return to their country within twenty days from this day, and also those who harm the missionaries during this period shall be punished. 1. The black ships are for commerce, and thereby they shall be treated differently and we shall buy and purchase various items over the years. 1. For those who do not try to prevent Buddhist law, such foreign merchants shall be allowed to come to or leave Japan any time after this.

The end of the text.
June 19, 1587 Red seal

[Original Japanese]