Constitutional revision and the public role of religion

Mark Mullins (University of Auckland)
Ian Reader (University of Manchester)
Religion and Religious Thought
Torre A, Piso 0, Sala 02
Start time:
2 September, 2017 at 11:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The issue of constitutional revision has reappeared since PM Abe's return to LDP leadership in 2012. This panel will consider the debate surrounding proposed revisions to articles of particular concern to organized religions (20, 89, and 9).

Long abstract:

On 15 December 1945, the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (SCAP) issued the "Directive for the Disestablishment of State Shinto" and set in motion policies that effectively reduced Shinto to the status of a voluntary organization. Articles 20 and 89 of the postwar Constitution (1947) redefined the relationship between the state and religion (i.e., separation) and the rights of individuals to freely practice (or not) a religion of their choice. Many religious organizations, particularly those that suffered under Japan's prewar regime, welcomed these changes, but critics maintained that the postwar Constitution and Occupation policies were based on "victor's justice" and unfairly reduced the role of Shinto in public life and institutions. Throughout the postwar period, religious and political leaders have advocated for revisions of the Constitution that would restore the place of Shinto. The issue of constitutional revision has become a focus of serious concern again since Prime Minister Abe Shinzō resumed leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party in 2012. The papers in this panel will critically engage the debate surrounding revisions proposed by the LDP to articles of particular concern to organized religions (20, 89, and 9). Helen Hardacre will examine the verdicts in two 2010 lawsuits related to public (municipal) support for Shinto rites and institutions, which will reveal why some government officials and Shinto leaders are in favor of the proposed revisions. Mark Mullins will review the impact of the revision of the Fundamental Education Law (2006) and the government's implementation of patriotic education, which provide precedents and evidence for why some religious and secular leaders oppose revisions. Levi McLaughlin's paper will focus on the role of Komeito, a key partner in the coalition government. He will consider how members of Soka Gakkai, the Buddhism-based religion that propels Komeito, are responding to the LDP's proposed amendment of the "peace clause" Article 9, and how Komeito defense of Article 9 connects to the party's support for recent security legislation.