"We have 126 million people in Japan, and more than 99% of the people are non-believers."
“We have 126 million people in Japan, and more than 99% of the people are non-believers.”

Ruth Kramer (MNN) / 01 DEC 2014 – The keywords, “Cool Japan,” are flying all around the world.

Takeshi Takazawa is National Director of Asian Access/Japan. He explains, “Cool Japan is the pop culture of Japan beginning to influence other cultures.”

More specifically, “The pop culture is connected to business, so many of the games, animations, and even the movies and all those things, you begin to notice Japanese pop culture’s influence in selling Japanese pop culture to other countries.”

Coined in 2002, the phrase is an expression of Japan’s emergent status as a cultural superpower. Now adopted by the government and branded, the idea of Cool Japan is being used to showcase the commercial capital and potential.

In short, Japan has influence. According to an annual survey by the Foreign Ministry, Japan is viewed by the American public and opinion leaders as the most important country in Asia. What would happen if you could take the strength of that influence and apply it to the Gospel? “I think God designed this age to influence and solve the problems of humanity by saving grace through local churches/body of Christ”, says Takazawa. However, there is one big hurdle. “We have 126 million people in Japan, and more than 99% of the people are non-believers,” which also means, “When we talk about Cool Japan, none of the people who promote and influence Cool Japan are Christians.”

However, A2 creates its own “cool factor.” He says, “We gather up national leaders of the church-planting movement to learn, to pray, to bless, and encourage, continuing this work to see Japan reached.”

Their leadership development plans work for long-term growth. Here’s why: “We try to foster the community of believers, community of leaders, and community of pastors to encourage one another, to hold each other accountable to reproduce themselves, to reproduce churches.”

One of the events A2 holds are Church Planting Institutes (CPI). Through those seminars, church leaders cast vision for church multiplication. Many training events have seen growing vision for new churches. Even though many Japanese have played a crucial part, there has been little Japanese leadership until the fall Vision Festival which changed the playing field entirely.

65 key leaders from throughout Japan gathered for the first Church Multiplication Vision Festival. This was led by Japanese, for Japanese, in Japanese (only about 5 missionaries attended). Japanese leaders came from all over Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa, and many places in between, to form a national network for church planting multiplication. As a result of the conference, “We would like to see 1,000 new churches planted all over Japan. Ultimately, we would like to go to 50,000 churches.”

A big task? Takazawa acknowledges that point. “I’m also overwhelmed. We have 126 million people in Japan, and more than 99% of the people are non-believers.” Takazawa is brutally honest about doubt. “That’s a battle in our head: ‘This is too big or too small,’ or ‘We can’t do it.’ That’s the voice of the enemy shooting at us, so we need to get together, encourage, and cling to Jesus.” This task won’t see success without God’s help unifying these leaders.

The challenge is large in Japan, the second largest unreached people in the world with 126 million people. The goal is a national movement which is broadly evangelical and Kingdom-minded. Ask God to speak to each leader about bold risk-taking faith. Takazawa also asks you to pray about two more things: “First, pray that the Lord of the Harvest would send more workers. Second, consider YOU to become a worker that God would mobilize. God uses all kinds of people to reach all kinds of people in Japan.”

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