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The United Church of Christ in Japan (UCCJ; Japanese: 日本キリスト教団 Nihon Kirisuto Kyōdan, or Kyōdan for short) is the largest Protestant denomination in Japan. It is a union of thirty-three diverse Protestant denominations forcibly merged by the Japanese wartime government on June 24, 1941. The UCCJ, which is a Japanese Independent Church, is a member of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

United Church of Christ in Japan
Nihon Kirisuto Kyōdan
TypeChristian new religious movement
ClassificationJapanese Independent Church
AssociationsWorld Council of Churches
Christian Conference of Asia
National Council of Churches in Japan
Eleven other countries
Origin24 June 1941
Fujimicho Church
Merger ofThirty-three denominations
SeparationsAnglican Church in Japan
Japan Assemblies of God
Japan Baptist Convention
Japan Holiness Church
Japan Lutheran Church
Reformed Church in Japan
The Salvation Army[1]
Nihon Kirisuto Kyokai
Numerous evangelical churches
Official websiteWebsite (in English)

Currently, the church has some about 200,000 members and 1,725 congregations served by 2,189 pastors.[2]


Second World WarEdit

Tomita Mitsuru, the first President of the UCCJ.[3]

Upon promulgation of the Religious Organizations Law that forced the merger of all the Protestant churches in Japan to unite, a declaration of church unity was made at a mass meeting of Christians from all parts of Japan on October 17, 1940. The Kyōdan was established at a Founding General Assembly held at the Fujimicho Church (founded by Uemura Masahisa) on 24–25 June 1941.[4]

After 1945Edit

With the establishment of religious freedom by the Allied Occupation Forces in 1946, many groups left the Kyōdan to reestablish their prewar denominational identities. The most significant departures were the Anglican Church in Japan, the Japan Lutheran Church, Japan Baptist Convention, Japan Holiness Church, Japan Assemblies of God, Reformed Church in Japan plus numerous smaller evangelical churches.

After the 1970sEdit

The controversy had both theological and non-theological roots, some tending back into an earlier period. The union's wartime origin and the church's self-acknowledged complicity in the war were called into question.[5] While the 1954 Confession of Faith, a doctrinal statement, clarified the postwar church's identity, many cite the 1967 Confession of Responsibility During World War II as recovering the church's integrity, by openly dealing with the church's wartime role.

Twenty-six UCCJ missionaries now serve in eleven overseas lands in a variety of ministries, a heritage begun when the first postwar missionary was sent to Brazil in 1957.

United Church of Christ in Japan permits openly gay and lesbian pastors to act as ministers.[6]

Seminaries and theological collegesEdit

Notable membersEdit


  1. ^ "United Church of Christ in Japan". Oikoumene. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  2. ^
  3. ^ ""THE TWO EMPIRES IN JAPAN"" by John M.L. Young
  4. ^ "A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE KYODAN". The United Church of Christ in Japan - English. The United Church of Christ in Japan. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  5. ^ The UCCJ was formally established in June 1941.
  6. ^ Bunkasha, Hyogen. "A Pastor's Passion: Building A Church Where All People Pray Together" (PDF). SOGI. Retrieved November 30, 2015.

External linksEdit