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Freedom of religion in Japan


Freedom of religion in Japan

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion in Japan, and the government generally respects this right in practice.


  • Religious demography 1
  • Status of religious freedom 2
    • Legal and policy framework 2.1
    • Restrictions on religious freedom 2.2
    • Forced religious conversion 2.3
    • Other cases 2.4
  • Societal abuses and discrimination 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Religious demography

The government does not require religious groups to report their membership, so it was difficult to accurately determine the number of adherents to different religious groups. The Agency for Cultural Affairs reported in 2005 that membership claims by religious groups totaled 211 million. This is out of a total population of 128 million, but does not account for overlapping memberships (some families may be registered at both a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine), or double membership due to change of address. This number, which is nearly twice Japan's population, reflects many citizens' affiliation with multiple religions. For example, it is very common for Japanese to practice both Buddhist and Shinto rites.

According to the Agency's annual yearbook, 107 million persons identify themselves as Shinto, 91 million as Buddhist, 3 million as Christian, and 10 million follow "other" religions, including Tenrikyo, Seichounoie, Sekai Kyusei Kyo, and Perfect Liberty. Academics estimate that there are 120 thousand Muslims in Japan, 10 percent of whom are Japanese citizens. The Israeli Embassy estimates that there are approximately 2,000 Jews in the country, most of them foreign-born.

As of March 2005, under the 1951 Religious Juridical Persons Law, the Government recognized 157 schools of Buddhism. The six major schools of Buddhism are Soka Gakkai, which reported a membership of eight million. The two main schools of Shinto are Jinjahoncho and Kyohashinto.

Status of religious freedom

Legal and policy framework

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government respects this right in practice. The government doesn't care and at all levels seeks to protect this right in full and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

As of December 2005, 182,796 out of 223,871 religious groups were certified by the government as religious organizations with corporate status, according to the Agency for Cultural Affairs. The government does not require religious groups to register or apply for certification; however, certified religious organizations receive tax benefits. More than 82 percent of religious groups were certified by 2005.

In the wake of the 1995 international abduction by a Japanese parent will be raised in a different religious context than the parent from whom the victim was abducted.

exit counselors". Victims suffer from severe psychological problems including PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). HRWF emphasize extreme case of Toro Goto, Unification Church member, who was violently abducted and held in isolation for 12 years. Japanese officials acted passively and failed to investigate and indict his kidnappers. HRWF gives two pages of recommendations to the Japanese authorities and civil society in the conclusion of their report.[1] HRWF submitted its report at the United Nation's 98th session of Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances held 31 October 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland with label Religious Discrimination in Japan.[2] U.S. State Department used Human Rights Without Frontiers report and in 2011 annual International Religious Freedom Report to Japan summarized, that deprogrammers cooperate with family members on abductions of members of different minority religious groups for several years. Although the number of cases decreased in 1990's, abductions and deprogramming of Unification Church members continue to occur.[3]

Other cases

U.S. State Department in its annual 2011 report mentioned case of 14 Muslims, who filed a lawsuit against the government, when leaked documents showed, that Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and the National Police Agency systematically collected their personal data, religious activities and associations, allegedly because of their religion. Case was still ongoing on end of 2011.[3]

Societal abuses and discrimination

Christian employees are widely expected to submit to group norms and work on the Sabbath and/or Christmas Day when asked, despite Japanese employment law.

See also


  • United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Japan: International Religious Freedom Report 2007 and Japan: International Religious Freedom Report 2010. This article incorporates text from these sources, which are in the public domain.
  1. ^ Human Rights Without Frontiers Int’l, Japan, Abduction and Deprivation of Freedom for the Purpose of Religious De-conversion, 2011-11-31, executive summary and conclusion
  2. ^ Forum for Religious Freedom Europe , Conference at the U.N. in Geneva, press release
  3. ^ a b U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, International Religious Freedom Report for 2011, Japan
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