Reid L. Neilson is an Assistant Professor of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University
In 1901 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent its first missionaries to Japan. Just over 20 years later, the Church temporarily retreated from evangelizing in Asia.
In Early Mormon Activities in Japan, 1901-1924, author Reid L. Neilson sheds light on why those first representatives were sent to Japan, how they functioned as "strangers in a strange land," and what led to the church's brief withdrawal from Japan and the rest of East Asia.
He argues that the same nineteenth-century LDS theology, practices, and traditions that gave rise to the early LDS Japan Mission in 1901 were paradoxically also responsible for the eventual demise of the mission in 1924.
The unvaried sense of evangelic propriety and practices hindered Mormon missionaries from adapting their message to the new and incredibly different cultures encountered in East Asia.
This floundering on the part of church leaders and laity to adapt to the linguistic and cultural differences of Japan resulted in fewer conversions than in other contemporary LDS mission fields, and caused the LDS Japan Mission to struggle in comparison with other Protestant missionary efforts among the Japanese.
Early Mormon Missionary Activities in Japan, 1901-1924 offers an extensive account of a not oft-mentioned point in Mormon history.