POLITICAL THOUGHT AND RELIGION IN POSTWAR JAPAN: FOCUSING ON CHANGES IN THE EARLY 1970s

  • Fujimoto Ryuji Doshisha University, Japan

Abstract

This chapter discusses, in the light of political thought, the background to the emergence of a new religious awareness prevailing in Japanese society today. When taking a general look at the political thought of postwar Japan focusing on the view of the world generally held by the Japanese people and the attitudes of intellectuals, it is evident that the development of political thought up to around 1970 was centered on the Japanese people’s aspiration for economic growth, praying for peace, and the sympathy for communism among intellectuals and pacifism advocated by them. However, this political thought became less prevalent in the 1970s. This is considered to be due to the fact that Japan attained its primary goal in achieving the economic growth it had pursued since defeat in the war, and this gave rise to a post-modern situation that was no longer explicable in terms of modern thought, such as existentialism and Marxism. The new situation is characterized by the perception of material goods as signs and the decline of the ‘grand-narrative.’ Further, the post-modern situation gave greater emphasis to our inner soul than to reality, and as such, is considered to have played a certain role in the emergence of the so-called new-new religions and the ‘new spirituality culture,’ which seek contact with the non-secular realm. Additionally, as interest in secular matters such as economic desire, was satisfied, people became more aware of the‘eyes of the war dead,’ which had been forgotten for some time after the war. This awareness is considered to have affected the Yasukuni problem. Accordingly, it is likely that the changes in political thought around 1970 are behind both of these religious issues.

Keywords: praying for peace, pacifism, sense of emptiness, the Yasukuni problem, the new-new Japanese religions, the new spirituality culture, post-modern situation

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Published
2017-01-11
Section
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