Description : Presenting a study of politics at grassroots level among young Japanese, this book examines the alliance between the religious movement Soka Gakkai (the 'Value-creation Society') and Komeito (the 'Clean Government Party'), which shared power with the Liberal Democratic Party from 1999 to 2009. Drawing on primary research carried out among Komeito supporters, the book focuses on the lives of supporters and voters in order to better understand the processes of democracy. It goes on to discuss what the political behaviour of young Komeito supporters tell us about the role of religious organizations, such as Soka Gakkai, in Japanese politics. Unlike most other books on politics in Japan which tend to concentrate on political elites, this book provides extremely valuable insights into political culture at the grassroots level.
Description : The Tokyo subway attack in March 1995 was just one of a series of criminal activities including murder, kidnapping, extortion, and the illegal manufacture of arms and drugs carried out by the Japanese new religious movement Aum Shinrikyo, under the guidance of its leader Asahara Shoko. Reader looks at Aum's claims about itself and asks, why did a religious movement ostensibly focussed on yoga, meditation, asceticism and the pursuit of enlightenment become involved in violent activities? Reader discusses Aum's spiritual roots, placing it in the context of contemporary Japanese religious patterns. Asahara's teaching are examined from his earliest public pronouncements through to his sermons at the time of the attack, and statements he has made in court. In analysing how Aum not only manufactured nerve gases but constructed its own internal doctrinal justifications for using them Reader focuses on the formation of what made all this possible: Aum's internal thought-world, and on how this was developed. Reader argues that despite the horrors of this particular case, Aum should not be seen as unique, nor as solely a political or criminal terror group. Rather it can best be analysed within the context of religious violence, as an extreme example of a religious movement that has created friction with the wider world that escalated into violence.
Description : What role does religion play in contemporary Japanese society and in the lives of Japanese people today? This text examines the major areas in which the Japanese participate in religious events, the role of religion in the social system and the underlying views within the Japanese religious world. Through a series of case studies of religion in action - at crowded temples and festivals, in austere Zen meditation halls, at home and at work, at dramatic fire rituals - it illustrates the immense variety, energy and colour inherent in Japanese religion. It also discusses the continued relevance and responses of religion in a rapidly modernizing and changing society.
Description : A ground-breaking work, this book begins with a chronology of Japanese Socioreligious history, Japanese religions, Japanese Christians and their ancestors. It then looks into the relationship between religion and politics in contemporary Japan and the current state of Christianity in Japan. Lucidly written and generously illustrated.
Description : On November 17,1964, a new and rather unique political organization was inaugurated in Japan. This organization was called Komeito or the Clean Government Party. ! The mother organization was the lay Buddhist group, Soka Gakkai 2 or Value Creation Society. It had previously been engaged in some political activities, but the establish ment of the party was an indication of serious intent to become even more involved in Japanese political affairs. The rather militant posture of Soka Gakkai and its phenomenal success in converting literally millions of Japanese to the Nichiren Buddhist religion was somewhat disconcerting for observers, both Japanese and foreign. Because of its political activism, many persons viewed the organization as similar to the pre-World War II ultra-nationalist movement, while others ap plauded Soka Gakkai for giving new life and hope to a large segment of Japanese society that was only receiving a marginal share of Japan's increasing prosperity. Any mass movement may appear rather ominous to some people and a rapidly expanding and aggressive movement is bound to be perceived as a threat to society. Soka Gakkai is no exception, and therefore has been the subject of much debate and controversy in both Japan and abroad. As is often the case with controversial matters, a new perspective will help to clarify some of the more contentious issues of this movement.
Description : Representing work by some of the leading scholars in the field, this volume presents important topics in the religious environment of contemporary Japan by surveying exciting trends, religious change and innovation, and the interactivity of religion with market and global forces.
Description : Combining theoretical and empirical research, these 12 essays examine the role of religion and its prospects in Europe. On the one hand, the volume discusses growing Islamic presence in Europe as a reminder of enduring religious pluralism, not least in view of the high prominence given to Islamic experience in arguments against over-generalised notions of secularisation. On the other hand, it explores the question of Christian motivated extremism and religious nationalism. Against this background, the contributors discuss the role of religion in other countries throughout the world including China, Japan, Russia and the MENA region.
Description : With respect to the countries of the world, this work addresses two basic questions: "How does religion affect politics in this country?" and "How does politics affect religion in this country?" • Covers major geographic regions such as Africa and South America and provides alphabetically arranged entries on topics related to religion and contemporary politics in particular countries • Cites works for further reading • Features essays within each section that compare and contrast the dynamics of religion and politics among the countries within that region • Contains sidebars that highlight key points and present interesting information • Provides a bibliography of the most important broad works on contemporary religion and politics in the modern world
Description : Enduring Identities is an attempt to understand the continuing relevance of Shinto to the cultural identity of contemporary Japanese. The enduring significance of this ancient yet innovative religion is evidenced each year by the millions of Japanese who visit its shrines. They might come merely seeking a park-like setting or to make a request of the shrine's deities, asking for a marriage partner, a baby, or success at school or work; or they might come to give thanks for benefits received through the intercession of deities or to legitimate and sacralize civic and political activities. Through an investigation of one of Japan's most important and venerated Shinto shrines, Kamo Wake Ikazuchi Jinja (more commonly Kamigamo Jinja), the book addresses what appears through Western and some Asian eyes to be an exotic and incongruous blend of superstition and reason as well as a photogenic juxtaposition of present and past. Combining theoretical sophistication with extensive fieldwork and a deep knowledge of Japan, John Nelson documents and interprets the ancient Kyoto shrine's yearly cycle of rituals and festivals, its sanctified landscapes, and the people who make it viable. At local and regional levels, Kamigamo Shrine's ritual traditions (such as the famous Hollyhock Festival) and the strategies for their perpetuation and implementation provide points of departure for issues that anthropologists, historians, and scholars of religion will recognize as central to their disciplines. These include the formation of social memory, the role of individual agency within institutional politics, religious practice and performance, the shaping of sacred space and place, ethnic versus cultural identity, and the politics of historical representation and cultural nationalism. Nelson links these themes through a detailed ethnography about a significant place and institution, which until now has been largely closed to both Japanese and foreign scholars. In contrast to conventional notions of ideology and institutions, he shows how a religious tradition's lack of centralized dogma, charismatic leaders, and sacred texts promotes rather than hinders a broad-based public participation with a variety of institutional agendas, most of which have very little to do with belief. He concludes that it is this structural flexibility, coupled with ample economic, human, and cultural resources, that nurtures a reworking of multiple identities--all of which resonate with the past, fully engage the present, and, with care, will endure well into the future.