Japanese universities are currently facing significant challenges that affect the study of religion in Japan in various ways. Against this backdrop, this special issue is a response from a group of Japanese scholars to the inaugural issue of this journal on “Religion and the Secular in the Japanese Context.” Contributors of this issue have chosen concrete, recent cases that appear to be “post-secular”—if based on the conventional (i.e., modern Western) concept of religion—and attempt to explicate the multifaceted dynamics of these cases through further analysis and broader contextualization. This Introduction clarifies their arguments by comparing them with debates on the same topic, in particular the contested border between religion and politics, given by representative Japanese scholars of religion during the 1980s and the 1990s.
How do contemporary Asians articulate these concepts in their respective national contexts, where religious diversity has already been a social fact since the pre-modern era? This chapter explores this by comparatively analyzing school textbooks published and used in India, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. A special focus is on textbooks published around 2005, when the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attack becoming visible in school textbooks in these countries.
This article suggests a way for scholars of Japanese religion to contribute to the international discussion on “nones” or the “non-religious,” who have been characterized as “believing without belonging,” “belonging without believing,” “believing in belonging,” etc. by integrating three different discursive arenas: one on multiple secularities as a context-conscious reexamination of functional differentiation; one on Japanese modernization centered on the idea of ie (household)-mura (village community); and one on a recent Japanese obsession with tsunagari (relationships, connection) and shōnin (recognition). The article argues that Japanese non-religiousness in the 2010s is an updated, self-conscious version of “religion as human relationships,” which can be paraphrased as “practicing belonging.” Moreover, while the current “religion as human relationships” practiced among young people tends to be confined to the intimate sphere, its traditional version regulated the public sphere as well. It was this public sphere of “religion as human relationships” that came to appear secular, as opposed to World Religions as matters of personal choice, in the process of modernization, which included the adoption of the Western concepts of “religion” and “secular.” The article also suggests that a “relationships turn” has been taking place not only in nonreligious rituals and festivals but also in spiritual culture and institutionalized religion.
Donald Wiebe claims that the IAHR leadership (already before an Extended Executive Committee (EEC) meeting in Delphi) had decided to water down the academic standards of the IAHR with a proposal to change its name to “International Association for the Study of Religions.” His criticism, we argue, is based on a series of misunderstandings as regards: 1) the difference between the consultative body (EEC) and the decision-making body (EC), 2) the difference between the preliminary points of view of individuals and final proposals by the EC, 3) personal conversations, 4) the link between the proposal to change the name and the wish to tighten up the academic profile of the IAHR. Moreover, if the final decision-making bodies, the International Committee and the General Assembly, adopt the proposal, the new name as little as the old can make the IAHR more or less scientific. Tightening up the academic, scientific profile of the IAHR takes more than a change of name.