Montesquieu
 

XXV.14 Why the Christian religion is so repellent in Japan

I have spo­ken of the atro­cious nature of the Japanese cha­rac­ter.1 The magis­tra­tes saw the stead­fast­ness that Christianity ins­pi­res when it came to renoun­cing the faith as very dan­ge­rous : to them, what they were seeing was a redou­bling of auda­city. Japanese law seve­rely puni­shes the sligh­test diso­be­dience : renun­cia­tion of the Christian reli­gion was orde­red ; not to renounce it was to diso­bey : this crime they puni­shed, and the conti­nua­tion of diso­be­dience see­med to merit fur­ther punish­ment.

Punishments to the Japanese are regar­ded as ven­geance for an insult made to the prince. Our mar­tyrs’ joy­ful songs see­med to be an attack on him ; the label of mar­tyr incen­sed the magis­tra­tes : in their minds it meant rebel, and they did eve­ry­thing they could to pre­vent it from being acqui­red. It was then that eve­ryone pani­cked and a hor­ri­fic com­bat ensued bet­ween the tri­bu­nals which condem­ned and the defen­dants who suf­fe­red, bet­ween civil laws and those of reli­gion.

Book VI, ch. xxix.