Despite differences in language, geography, and tradition in regard to the Far East, we are actually not that distant from them, except in terms of family models and problems flowing therefrom. For example, in Japan and its tradition, marriages are still today, in at least 60 - 70% of cases, made by contracts between families and arranged by the relatives. Meticulous family ceremonies and respect for tradition are, however, the recognition of an order that comes from on high, that is, something that transcends and at the same time precedes man. One can thus see in this the reflection of an "authentic natural religious inclination", explains Fr. Alfredo Scattolon, a missionary of the Pontifical Institute of External Missions who spent close to thirty years in Japan.
“The Missions and Christian Churches introduced something new in Japan,” according to Padre Alfredo. He continues, “Coming face to face with the truth and with Christian Life can be a source of personal distress to the Japanese sensibility. Besides the moral challenges that Christianity presents, the fact of having to ‘learn’ a religious doctrine, which is a foreign idea to them, is one reason that can explain why they find so much difficulty in turning to Christ, who they even know of and admire. The Gospel is one of the best selling books!”
As to the traditional Japanese family, at least in the manner in which as we understand the notion, “has never existed: today the conception of the family is monogamous, divorce is accepted but is not paraded about, normally being kept hidden. One marries and then want kids. But the father is traditionally a controlling figure, a master of the house. The children are cared for by the mother until they are able to attend school, and it is with her that the more intense emotional bonds develop.” In Japan, finally, “a child being amongst their various relatives is very common. Traditionally, the Japanese person is not as individualistic as the Italian, but moves together with others in groups. First there is family, then school, and then the company in which one works or the time of military service. The recognition of the rights of the individual as a person is a contribution of Christianity.”