Mormons in the Press: Reactions to the 1901 Opening of the Japan Mission

Shinji Takagi


During the first month when a Mormon Apostle and three missionaries arrived to begin proselytizing work in Japan, the local and national press published at least 160 articles on Mormonism, many of the articles appearing on the front page. The media attention was unprecedented for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that country. Here the author explores the reaction from the Japanese press toward Mormons, the social and historical context that led to such interest, and some of the media controversies that arose. The author concludes that one of the biggest reasons Mormons received such attention when they arrived was because at the turn of the century, the Japanese people were addressing issues such as prostitution and the elite class"s practice of keeping concubines. Journalists often examined and criticized the former Mormon practice of polygamy while commenting on Japan"s most pressing social concerns. Despite some unfavorable newspaper articles, the publicity impacted proselytizing efforts positively, resulting in opportunities for the missionaries to speak and publish a major treatise to use in proselytizing.

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