Problematic conceptions and critical developments: the construction and relevance of 'religion' and religious studies in Japan
ISASR in association with the Study of Religions, University College Cork
In this article I examine the concept of religion (shūkyō in Japanese) with reference to the claims that as a term and category it did not exist in Japan prior to the country's 19th century encounter with Western powers, and to the notion that 'Religious Studies' in Japan was simply implanted wholesale from the West. By referring to recent work in this area, I argue that such claims are overstated. I further examine some of the implications of the development of a concept of religion in pre-war and post-war Japan, and discuss why in the postwar era new laws and constitutional safeguards relating to religion were inaugurated. By looking at controversial areas in which actions are viewed as religious or not, while in parallel looking at how post-war academia has interpreted 'religion' and how Japanese Religious Studies (shūkyōgaku) has developed, I argue that the concept and discipline are highly important in the present day, and that suggestions that the term and the academic discipline be abandoned could have serious implications for contemporary society and Japanese civil liberties.
Religious studies , Japan , Shūkyō , Shūkyōgaku , The category of religion
READER, I. 2016. Problematic conceptions and critical developments: the construction and relevance of 'religion' and religious studies in Japan. Journal of the Irish Society for the Academic Study of Religions, 3(1), 198-218.
(c)2016, The Author(s).