Introduction / History Many Japanese have moved to Thailand because it provides an offshore base for their export-oriented industries. Over 12,000 Japanese live in Bangkok, Thailand's capitol, which is located on the Gulf of Thailand coast. Regarded as temporary residents, the Japanese work in diplomatic missions, represent Japanese business interests, and provide technical aid.
The Japanese have been drawn to Thailand for four main reasons. First, Japan and Thailand are both monarchies with frequent royal exchanges. Second, they share a common religion, Buddhism. Third, the two countries have never been at war with each other. Finally, the most compelling reason is that the government has a laissez-faire approach to business with comparatively little red tape for potential investors. Japanese businessmen recognize Thailand as a civilized country where contacts are respected, government intervention is minimal, and Thai workers are industrious.
What are their lives like? The lives of the Japanese in Thailand rotate around business and pleasure. They represent more than 900 Japanese companies and have provided 300,000 new, desperately needed jobs. Overall, economic growth in Thailand has risen an average of 10% a year, transforming the country into an Asian economic giant. However, a high price has been paid for this transformation, including cultural disruptions and wide-spread urban pollution.
One example of cultural disruption caused by the influx of Japanese businessmen is the pressure placed on already strained housing situations. Accustomed to paying high rent in Tokyo, the Japanese in Bangkok find rent extremely cheap. It is customary in Thailand to haggle over prices, but the Japanese willingly sign leases for as much as double the amount paid by the previous renters. This forces other renters out when leases are due because they cannot afford the demand for a higher rate.
Japanese companies and factories near Bangkok have also greatly contributed to air and water pollution. Over one million tons of toxic wastes are dumped into the cities' waste courses each year. With all forms of ground transportation burning leaded gas and electricity provided by lignite, a dirty-burning coal, Bangkok swelters under a blue haze of polluted air.
Perhaps the greatest threat from the Japanese influx is a blatant exploitation of the country. The Japanese are known for only transferring limited and "old" technology to the Thai. The Thai resent the Japanese for refusing to promote them into management positions in the Thai-based companies. They are also angry because the Japanese only train the Thai employees for specific skills to profit Japanese business. Some critics of Japanese businessmen in Thailand feel that easy access to cheap golf courses and the night-life or "red light" areas of Bangkok are more seductive than many Japanese investors would admit. Areas of night clubs catering almost exclusively to Japanese businessmen have developed.
What are their beliefs? Shintoism is the native religion of many Japanese. It is rooted in animism (belief that non-living objects have spirits), and its many gods or spirits are known as kami. Buddhism was introduced to Japan in the sixth century. Today, most Japanese claim to be both Shintoist and Buddhist.
Traditions of Shintoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism have all contributed to Japanese religious principles: ancestor worship; a belief in religious continuity of the family; a close tie between the nation and religion; a free exchange of ideas among religious systems; and religious practices centered on the use of prayer meditation, amulets, and purification.
What are their needs? Many Japanese are indifferent and skeptical of established religion. On the outside, they seem to have few needs. However, many of them have become obsessed with materialistic pleasures, careers, and possessions. Their greatest need is to be introduced to the Father through His Son, Jesus.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to call laborers to go to Thailand and share Christ with the Japanese.
* Pray that Christian businessmen will have open doors to share the Gospel with the Japanese.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Japanese toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Pray that Japanese Christians will have opportunities to share the love of Jesus with their families and friends.
* Pray that Christian radio and television broadcasts will be effective in reaching the Japanese.
* Pray that God will raise up teams of intercessors to stand in the gap for these precious people.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Japanese.