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Editor: Ugo Dessì
Shin Buddhism (Jōdo Shinshū), although weakened in many ways by secularization, continues to be a stable presence in Japanese society, as is emblematically shown by the very symmetrical position of the Nishi (Honganji-ha) and the Higashi Honganji (Ōtani-ha) head temples in the center of Kyōto, and by the recent projects for their renovation. This book addresses the need for more academic research on Shin Buddhism, and is specifically directed at describing and analyzing distinctive social aspects of this religious tradition in historical and contemporary perspective. The contributions collected here cover a wide range of issues, including the intersection between Shin Buddhism and fields as diverse as politics, education, social movements, economy, culture and the media, social ethics, gender, and globalization.
Author: Ugo Dessì

Abstracts

While Buddhism and Shintō are often presented as inherently tolerant and committed to pluralism, just a cursory overview of Japanese history shows that their mutual interactions and those with ‘foreign’ religions have often been characterized by competition and conflict. Based on this premise, this chapter seeks to contribute to a deeper reflection on the ambiguities that permeate present-day configurations of religious diversity in Japan by exploring the Japanese idea of “harmony” (wa) from the perspective of religious authority. Contextually, it will contribute to shed more light on the global implications of these dynamics.

In: Religious Diversity in Asia
In: Handbook of East Asian New Religious Movements
In: The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism
In: The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism
In: The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism
In: The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism
In: The Social Dimension of Shin Buddhism
Author: Ugo Dessì

Abstract

This article takes its cue from one of the most controversial issues in the contemporary Japanese scene, the 2006 complete revision of the Fundamental Law of Education, that includes among its objectives the cultivation of patriotism, the high evaluation of Japanese tradition and culture, and the promotion of general knowledge regarding religion in public schools. Within this framework, the role of religion in education indeed represents a sensitive subject, which entails once again reinterpretation of the issues of the separation of state and religion, and the freedom of religion, which are enshrined in the Japanese Constitution. There have been reactions to this revision from various religious institutions, ranging from support to overt opposition. What is argued here is that these responses are meaningful to understanding some of the major dynamics currently at work within the Japanese religious world, and their implications for the issue of religion and authority. In this respect, the Shin Buddhist position may be seen as a way of contesting the claims of authority by political institutions, and affirming an alternative authoritative discourse on the basis of selected doctrinal sources, and a positive approach toward globalization and the differentiation of religion, politics and education.

In: Numen