Faculty of Arts


Special Topic: Topics in Japanese Religion and Society


This course will focus on the topic of neo-nationalism and religion in contemporary Japanese society. Recent decades have seen a rise in religious nationalism around the world, particularly in connection with various fundamentalist movements. Although studies of fundamentalism usually focus on social forms related to Christianity and Islam, there are also versions that have appeared in the context of East Asian religious traditions.

Some scholars look to the New Religions for Japanese examples of religious phenomena that bear a “family resemblance” to fundamentalism (SØka Gakkai and, more recently, KenshØkai, for example). Other scholars have suggested that the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja HonchØ) and affiliated socio-political movements, such as ShintØ Seiji Renmei, SeikyØ Kankei o Tadasu-kai, Nippon Kaigi and, more recently, Atarashii rekishi kyØkasho o tsukuru kai, represent a diffuse Japanese expression of fundamentalism in the postwar period. These movements collectively seek to recover the public role of Shinto - disestablished by the Occupation reforms - and restore the social order and values expressed in the Emperor-centered State Shinto of wartime Japan.

The “restoration” efforts include the movement to renationalise Yasukuni Shrine, attempts to legitimise “official” visits to Yasukuni by government representatives (kØshiki sanpai), the movement to revise the postwar Constitution (particularly Articles 9, 20 and 89) and various strategies to reform the public school system through the inclusion of “moral” and “patriotic” education and revision of the Fundamental Education Law (KyØiku Kihon HØ).

These neo-nationalist initiatives have generated considerable conflict and debate over a range of religion-state issues. This course will review the efforts to revitalise Japanese civil religion and consider the critical opposition that has emerged from both religious (Buddhist and Christian) and secular individuals and groups. The topics and readings covered may be adjusted according to the background and research interests of the enrolled students.

To complete this course students must enrol in JAPANESE 744 A and B.

Availability 2019

Availability to be advised




JAPANESE 744A: 15.0 points

JAPANESE 744B: 15.0 points

JAPANESE 744: 30.0 points

Contact details | Search | Accessibility | Copyright | Privacy | Disclaimer | 1