A political history of spirituality in modern Japan: Honda Chikaatsu, Taniguchi Masaharu, and Hatoyama Yukio

Ioannis Gaitanidis (Chiba University)
Eiko Namiki (International Christian University)
Hidehiko Kurita (Nanzan University)
Franziska Steffen (Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)
Religion and Religious Thought
Torre A, Piso 0, Sala 03
Start time:
2 September, 2017 at 14:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel will explore mutual influences between political developments and modern Japanese spiritualist thought, from Honda Chikaatsu's Shinto theology-inspired politics, to NRM leader Taniguchi Masaharu's politico-economics, and to former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio's discourse on para-science.

Long abstract:

Despite researchers' long and continuous endeavor to reveal the influence on national politics of established religious traditions as well as modern religious thought (Shinto, Buddhism, and also New Religious Movements such as Sōka Gakkai), studies that examine more pertinently the effects of the complex intermingling between political preoccupations and their religious interpretations are still rare in Japan. Yet, recent publications (see for example, Julian Strube. 2016. Socialist religion and the emergence of occultism: A genealogical approach to socialism and secularization in 19th-century France, Religion 46:3, 359-388) have brought to the fore many ways in which politically-inspired reexaminations of established religion in the modern period, have not only led to religious renewal, but have also in turn influenced new political thought. The three papers in this panel seek to contribute towards this direction by exploring three case-studies, ranging from the second half of the nineteenth century to the first decade of the twentieth century. More precisely, Eiko Namiki will analyze the mutual influences between the idea of direct imperial rule in Meiji Japan and the new Shinto theology of Honda Chikaatsu as conveyed in his original norito prayers and his exegesis of the Kojiki. Hidehiko Kurita's paper will consider the case of Taniguchi Masaharu, the founder of the new religious movement Seichō no Ie, and proponent of his own economic policies, which in the 1930s aimed at attracting people from the entire left-right political spectrum. And, finally, Ioannis Gaitanidis will consider how the decades-long involvement of Hatoyama Yukio, former head of the Democratic Party of Japan which he led to victory in 2009, with para-scientific research may have impacted on, and possibly continues to influence some of his political decisions. In sum, this panel will try to untangle the process behind the characteristically modern cycle of religion→politics→religion→politics.