THE POLITICO-RELIGIOUS DILEMMA OF THE YASUKUNI SHRINE

  • Shinya Masa’aki Bukkyo University, Kyoto, Japan

Abstract

This article concerns itself with the relation of the Yasukuni Shrine with the state in prewar and postwar Japan. It focuses on the agencies involved, that is, on organizations and individuals that represent this institution or relate to it in other ways. Its main goal is to clarify the situation of the Yasukuni Shrine, particularly the dilemma it faces. Being rooted in a diverse Shinto tradition and established by the imperialist Meiji Government, the prewar Yasukuni Shrine was a representative institution of stateShinto. Its situation alters drastically after WW II, when Japan was induced to shift its politics toward a democratic parliamentary state. The core of the Yasukuni problem is that this shrine is a memorial for all Japanese war dead that provides exclusive Shinto memorial services, within which religion, patriotism, and nationalism coalesce into one and the same attitude. Yasukuni’s dilemma concerns the adoption of either a religious or a political ideal, but the Yasukuni authorities apparently want both. The paper briefly relates the origin of the Yasukuni Shrine and discusses the religious nature of state-Shinto, the translation problem of the word religion into Japanese, and finally, Yasukuni’s postwar development, highlighting the role of various actors in this social practice.

Keywords: agency and structure, Yasukuni, state-Shinto, shrine-Shinto, nonreligious Shinto, ‘religion’ as a translation-word, separation of state and religion, Bereaved Families Association (izokukai)

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Published
2017-01-11
Section
TOPIC OF THIS ISSUE