State Shinto

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Empire of Japan banknote with Yasukuni Shrine, now a private corporation due to the Shinto Directive.

State Shintō (国家神道 Kokka Shintō?) is a neologism introduced during the Occupation of Japan in 1945 to identify certain aspects of Japanese patriotism as "religious". The Meiji Constitution adopted a separation of church and state based on the Prussian model, but the American-authored Shinto Directive redefined this separation and privatized some elements of the Japanese government, creating the concept of "State Shinto". In the Empire of Japan, shrines were considered secular organs of the state, a classification that garnered no serious opposition from the Japanese public.[1]

When in the early Meiji Period the Japanese defined the concept of "religion", they often argued that Shinto was not a "religion."[2] They also distinguished Shrine Shinto from what is identified with the category called Sect Shinto today. At first, a ritual bureau called the Jingi-kan was established to propagate kokugaku-related information, but the Diet of Japan rejected calls to make this a "state religion", and it was soon disbanded.[3] Religious scholar T.E. Maxey calls it "grossly inaccurate" to describe the Jingi-kan using the Western concept of "established religion."[4] According to the scholar Jason Ānanda Josephson, It is inaccurate to describe shrines as constituting a "state religion" or a "theocracy" during this period since they lacked a single organization, standard doctrine, or idea of conversion.[5] Jolyon Baraka Thomas writes that the Empire of Japan's constitutional system "should be considered a secular system rather than a system of state religion."[6] It seems clear that a number of rules were established to keep shrines separated from sectarian doctrines and religion in general. For example, preaching at shrines was forbidden, shrine officials were prohibited from conducting funerals, and the use of the torii gate was restricted to government-owned shrines.[7] In a 1911 article, the head of the Home Ministry declared that attendance at shrines was not a matter of religious faith but of respect for one's ancestors and the nation. In 1936, the Catholic Church's Propaganda Fide announced that visits to shrines had "only a purely civil value".[8]

After the surrender of Japan American Occupation authorities determined that Japan had constructed a "state religion". In December 1945, the elements of this State Shinto were announced and privatized. On 1 January 1946, Emperor Shōwa issued a statement, sometimes referred to as the Humanity Declaration, in which he quoted the Five Charter Oath of Emperor Meiji and announced that he was not an Akitsumikami and Japan was not built on myths. As a result of the privatization of shrines, Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, a monument to war dead, has become a "religious corporation".[citation needed]

Government offices[edit]

The following table shows the evolution of the Japanese government institutions related to shrines and religion from the Meiji Restoration to the present. From this table, it can be seen that shrines and religions were controlled by the same department from 1872 to 1900, but by separate departments before and after.

Subordinate institutions
Name Translation Establishment Abolition Shrines Sect Shinto Buddhism Christianity Other sects
Department of Rites January 1868 February 1868  
Secretary of Rites February 1868 April 1868  
Bureau of Rites April 1868 August 1871  
Minbushō shajigakari
Ministry of Civil Affairs,
Department of Temples and Shrines
July 1870 October 1870 limited    
Minbushō jiinryō
Ministry of Civil Affairs,
Autoridad de Templos
October 1870 July 1871    
Ōkurasho kosekiryō shajika
Ministry of Finance,
Autoridad de Registros Censales,
Department of Temples and Shrines
July 1871 March 1872 limited  
Ministry of Rites Agosto 1871 March 1872  
Ministry of Sects March 1872 January 1877        
Naimushō shajikyoku
Home Ministry,
Bureau of Temples and Shrines
January 1877 April 1900          
Naimushō jinjakyoku
Home Ministry,
Bureau of Shrines
April 1900 November 1940  
Naimushō shūkyōkyoku
Home Ministry,
Bureau of Religions
April 1900 June 1913        
Monbushō shūkyōkyoku
Ministry of Education,
Religions Bureau
June 1913 November 1942        
Naimushō jingiin
Home Ministry
Shrines Committee
November 1940 February 1946  
Monbushō kyōkakyoku shūkyōka
Ministry of Education,
Bureau of Education,
Religions Department
February 1942 November 1943        
Monbushō kyōgakukyoku shūkyōka
Ministry of Education,
Bureau of Educational Affairs,
Religions Department
November 1943 October 1945        
Monbushō shakaikyōikukyoku shūkyōka
Ministry of Education,
Bureau of Social Education,
Religions Department
October 1945 March 1946          
Monbudaijin kanbō shūmuka
Secretary of Ministry of Education,
Religious Affairs Department
March 1946 August 1952          
Monbushō chōsakyoku shūmuka
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology,
Religious Affairs Department
August 1952 -          


  1. ^ Isomae, Jun'ichi (2013). "Religion, Secularity, and the Articulation of the 'Indigenous' in Modernizing Japan". In Bernhard Scheid. Kami Ways in Nationalist Territory. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. pp. 23–50. ISBN 978-3-7001-7400-4. 
  2. ^ Josephson, Jason Ānanda (2012). The Invention of Religion in Japan. University of Chicago Press. p. 94. ISBN 0226412342. 
  3. ^ Isomae, Jun'ichi (2007). "The Formative Process of State Shintō in Relation to the Westernization of Japan: the Concept of ‘Religion’ and ‘Shintō’". In Timothy Fitzgerald. Religion and the Secular: Historical and Colonial Formations. Equinix. p. 96. ISBN 1845532678. 
  4. ^ Maxey, Trent E. (2014). The "greatest problem" : religion and state formation in Meiji Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center. p. 19. ISBN 0674491998. 
  5. ^ Josephson, Jason Ānanda (2012). The Invention of Religion in Japan. University of Chicago Press. p. 133. ISBN 0226412342. 
  6. ^ Thomas, Jolyon Baraka (2014). Japan's Preoccupation with Religious Freedom (Ph.D.). Princeton University. p. 76. 
  7. ^ Nitta, Hitoshi (2000). "Religion, Secularity, and the Articulation of the 'Indigenous' in Modernizing Japan". In John Breen. Shintō in History: Ways of the Kami. Shintō as a ‘Non-Religion’: The Origins and Development of an Idea. p. 266. ISBN 0700711708. 
  8. ^ Nakai, Kate Wildman (2013). "Coming to Terms With 'Reverence at Shrines'". In Bernhard Scheid. Kami Ways in Nationalist Territory. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. pp. 109–154. ISBN 978-3-7001-7400-4.