Brief History of JBS


It was in 1873 when the ban of Christianity, which had persecuted Christians for more than 200 years, was lifted. However, there were Westerners who settled in Japan after the Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed between Japan and the United States in 1858, and some of them had the desire to bring Christian messages to the people in Japan.

Regarding the Bible operation on a large scale, the National Bible Society of Scotland (NBSS, now called the Scottish Bible Society) set up its branch in Yokohama in 1875, followed by the American Bible Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society in 1876. In 1880, these Bible Societies published the New Testament translated by the committee formed by Protestant missionaries and some Japanese. Seven years later, they completed the Old Testament. Further more, they published the Braille bible(1921) and the Japanese-English New Testament(1881). It should be noted that these Bible Societies were not only publishers of the Bible but also financial supporters for the translation work carried out in those days.
 
1880 New Testament Portions

In 1937, with the help of the abovementioned Bible Societies, the Japan bible Society(JBS) was established. The time, however, was very tough for JBS to promote Bible cause. When World WarII broke out in Europe, Japan regarded Britain and the United States as enemies due to a triple alliance formed with Germany and Italy.

Therefore, Christianity was regarded as the enemy's religion and JBS was taken as pro-British and American. Consequently, JBS had no choice but to refuse to receive financial support from them. Bible production and distribution were controlled by the Japanese government and paper for Bible production was never rationed to JBS. The number of Bible distribution in 1945 was only 23, for JBS could only provide Bibles already in stock to those who requested.

After the WWII, Japan was occupied by the United States. Even though the social condition in Japan was very chaotic, Christianity had a chance to revive. Relief activities were undertaken and American missionarieswho used to stay in Japan started reaching out to the Japanese people. 2,390,000 copies of the Japanese Bible were produced in the US and presented to Japanese people during the period between 1945 to 1948, which was followed by "the 10 million Bible distribution movement" from 1949 to 1951.

Since its beginning, JBS had been supported financially by ABS and BFBS. In 1969, however ,with Japan's rapid economic growth following the termination of the WWII, JBS decided to become a self-supporting Bible Society. It was a big step taken by JBS, which used to be a "contributed" Bible Society, to become a "contributing" Bible Society after 93 years. Since then JBS has not only been serving the Japanese people but also other Bible Societies that are not yet independent.
 
The Good Will Book
 
Names of people who helped in the distribution of the Japanese New Testament after WWⅡ