“Religious Revival” in the Political World in Contemporary Japan with Special Reference to Religious Groups and Political Parties

in Journal of Religion in Japan
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In the 1960s, the basic structure of linked religious organisations and political parties was formed, as can be seen from the rise of Kōmeitō, a political party founded by Sōka Gakkai, and the creation of the Shintō Political Association (SPA). In the 1970s, when Japan was undergoing high economic growth, the social status of Sōka Gakkai members was elevated, although the expansion of the group came to a halt. After Kōmeitō formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the 1990s, the supporters for each party came to play complementary roles. Seeing the active involvement of these religious organisations in politics—though with a varying degree of media exposure—it is possible to say that public religion has reappeared in Japanese society. However, I would like to argue that this is not a sign of post-secular “religious revival.” It is rather the “depoliticisation” among Japanese people that makes the presence of religious organisations seem more conspicuous. This paper aims to redraw the configuration of religion and politics in postwar Japan chiefly by examining the relationship between the SPA and the LDP, and that between Sōka Gakkai and Kōmeitō.

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    Mullins (2012) and Dessì (2013) have discussed the issues of the SPA in relation to the LDP.

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