Politics and Religion in Japan



The relation between church and state, or religion and politics, has always been an uncomfortably close one in Japan, but it is only in recent years that this relationship has been seen as problematical, both from a political and a religious perspective. This article surveys two major areas of contention in particular: the present Japanese government's apparent attempts to revive an Emperor-centered State Shinto, and the lively recent debates over the role of Buddhism, especially of ‘fascist Zen’, in the Asia–Pacific War. I also consider the political implications of the new movement of so-called ‘Critical Buddhism’, as well as of the ‘religious violence’ practiced by the Aum Shinriky? ‘doomsday cult’.