Media and New Religious Movements in Japan

in Journal of Religion in Japan
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Abstract

Many modern new religions in Japan, by using the mass media in their missionary work, managed to increase their influence on society in a very short time. With time, their use of media has also diversified, now covering all available formats: newspapers and journals, radio and TV, CS and video, the Internet and even smart phones. One of the characteristics of modern new religions is that they are associations composed of people bound by a common purpose rather than by shared blood or territory on which the traditional religions of Shrine Shintō and Sectarian Buddhism were established. It is this new principle of association that allowed new religions such as Sōka Gakkai, Risshō Kōseikai, Reiyūkai, Tenrikyō and Shinnyoen to quickly gain more than a million followers. In the mid-1990s, Japan entered the rapid information age, marked especially by the widespread use of the Internet. However, the changes that the Internet has brought to society differ from those provoked by the earlier modernization process. In this paper, I would like to discuss some of the difficulties that modern new religions face in the Internet age, particularly in the management of new forms of information that can now be sent and received.

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At the time of sarin gas incident in 1995, some newspapers reported that the average age of the core members of the group was twenty-six.

14

In 1999, two new laws were enacted which legalized surveillance of Aum Shinrikyō activities. The laws are to be reviewed every five years. They were not abolished on the occasion of their first review in 2011.

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