8 February 2012
Venue: Case Room 1, Owen G Glenn Building
Host: Professor Mark Mullins, Sophia University, Tokyo
School of Asian Studies
Japanese Professorial Seminars
Neo-Nationalism and the Fate of Religion in Post-Aum Japanese Society
Professor Mark Mullins
The 1995 social crisis in Japan—brought on in part by Aum Shinrikyō—created an environment in which the political interests and agenda of neonationalist leaders and groups found a more receptive audience. Most of their concerns and restoration initiatives had been envisioned by the Association of Shintō Shrines since the end of the Occupation and promoted by its political arm, the Shinto Seiji Renmei, since 1969. In the first few years after the Aum affair, a number of new groups emerged—such as Nippon Kaigi—and joined forces with these older organizations. With the leadership of politicians and Prime Ministers from the Liberal Democratic Party, these groups have recorded significant progress toward the goal of reshaping public life and institutions over the course of a decade. Both secular and religious critics are concerned that the institutionalization of these neonationalist initiatives is seriously eroding individual freedoms. The public concern for “protection” from deviant new religions—initially generated by the Aum crisis—has evolved to include a concern for protection from civil religious obligations in public institutions.