Welcome to Japan

Country Snapshot

Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited. Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister and other elected members of Parliament. A major economic power, Japan is the world's third largest donor of official development assistance.  It leads the world in developing new environment-friendly technologies.  

Japanese society is linguistically and culturally homogeneous, with small populations of foreign workers. Japan has the longest overall life expectancy at birth of any country in the world, and the population is rapidly aging. This is creating a number of social issues, particularly a potential decline in workforce population and increase in the cost of social security benefits.

Women were given the right to vote in 1946. Other postwar reforms opened education institutions to women and required that women receive equal pay for equal work. Legally, few barriers to women's equal participation in the life of society remain. 

Japan has many active volcanoes and is prone to destructive earthquakes, often resulting in tsunami.  On 11 March 2011, Japan suffered the strongest earthquake in its recorded history.                                         

Good Shepherd founding story

The Sisters of the Good Shepherd arrived in Japan, from Canada, in 1935.  At first, they began their work in an old farmer’s house. In 1937, they built a new convent and opened a refuge for girls and women.

In 1941, during the Second World War, the foreign missionaries were put in a concentration camp as they were viewed as enemies.  Only two Japanese postulants and several girls were left. 

Good Shepherd today

When the War ended in 1945 the sisters returned safely and opened a Children’s Home because there were many children in the streets who had lost their families.   Other homes were opened and communities were founded in Osaka, Yokohama, Toyonaka, Sendai and Nagano. 

Today, the sisters serve girls and women:

  • Residential care for girls and women with personal and family challenges.

  • A kindergarten and day care center. 

  • Working with Migrant Workers.  For about 20 years, two Good Shepherd Sisters from the Philippines and one Japanese Sister lived in Nagano and worked with Filipino migrant workers.