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Sounds of Summer: Japan’s Hidden Christians

Sounds of Summer: Japan's Hidden Christians

Shane McLeod

Japan (for the full story, go to ABC News)
ELIZABETH JACKSON: Hello, I'm Elizabeth Jackson. As part of the ABC's summer season, we now present a current affairs special.
The name of the Japanese city of Nagasaki will forever be etched into history as the site where a nuclear weapon was used in wartime.
But long before Nagasaki became infamous for its nuclear experience, it had other grim history to remember.
It was a place of torture, religious persecution and repression, and it dates back centuries.
For centuries, those who followed Christianity were persecuted and executed.
RENZO DE LUCA (translated): There were as many as 10,000 people, so I can't talk about every one of them. There were many different ways of torture. The easiest way was to cut off their head. Or cut the hands, nose or one leg with a spear. The most cruel one was, well you wouldn't know unless you experienced it, the most cruel one was hanging them upside down in a hole. They would hang them upside down and then they wouldn't know what's happening around them. They wouldn't know if they would die.
SHANE MCLEOD: Father Renzo De Luca is a Catholic priest who runs a museum in Nagasaki dedicated to the so-called 26 Martyrs - a group of Christian followers forced to march from Kyoto to Nagasaki before being killed on a nearby hillside in 1597.
It marked a brutal period of persecution that culminated in the outlawing of Christianity across Japan.
RENZO DE LUCA (translated): The Christian teachings always had a content that could possibly cause a revolution. It was very scary for the leaders at that time. At the same time, there were these connections with foreign countries. New weapons or money could come in from overseas, or many soldiers might cross the ocean and come, so I think it was fear of something they didn't know about.
SHANE MCLEOD: With brutal force, Japan's rulers had made their views clear - those who wanted to practise Christianity would have to do so in secret. Those who did became known as the 'Kakure Christians'. Today, they're known as the 'Hidden Christians'.

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