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Neo-nationalism, Japanese Catholics, and the State: A Church Divided Over Yasukuni Shrine, Patriotic Education, and the Constitution
Mark Richardson Mullins

Last modified: 2015-10-06


Since the end of the Occupation period (1945-1952), the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja Honchō) has worked closely with leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to restore Shinto influence in public life. These “restoration” efforts have been reinvigorated in connection with the resurgence of neo-nationalism in the wake of the social crisis precipitated by the 1995 Kobe earthquake and sarin gas attack by Aum Shinrikyō, and the threefold disaster—earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown—in 2011. In post-disaster Japan, the close relationship between the LDP and Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership (Shinto Seiji Renmei) has been strengthened and eight Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) governments over the past two decades have renewed their efforts to promote Yasukuni Shrine visits, pass legislation to restore patriotic education in public schools, and revise the Constitution of Japan. These developments represent serious challenges for religious minorities in Japan. This paper examines how one of these minorities, Japanese Catholics, has been responding to this cluster of issues and documents the emergence of deep divisions between the “prophetic” and critical Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan and some pro-nationalistic lay Catholics.


Nationalism, Religious Minorities