POPULATION127,368,088 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$35,200 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSShintoism 83.9%, Buddhism 71.4%, Christianity 2%, other 7.8% note: total adherents exceeds 100% because many people belong to both Shintoism and Buddhism (2005)
ALSO IN EAST ASIAChina
AT THE CENTER
The religious landscape of contemporary Japan is characterized by a dynamic combination of syncretism, secularism, and new religious movements. Mahayana Buddhism arrived in Japan during the sixth century and blended extensively with Shinto, the indigenous tradition of Japan. State Shinto evolved in the nineteenth century with the advent of the Japanese Empire and came to be characterized by emperor worship and the suppression of non-Shinto faiths. The imperialistic tendencies of State Shinto led to a constitutional separation of religion and state after World War II. The emperor remains the highest authority of Shinto but his role is purely ceremonial, and Japanese politics are firmly secular. Many Japanese practice Shinto rituals, but also hold Christian-style weddings due to the influx of Western popular culture. Despite engaging in faith-based rituals, seventy percent of Japanese identify as belonging to no religion. New religious movements, often rooted in Shinto-Buddhist concepts, have started to emerge in Japan during the late twentieth century with the overwhelming majority of these groups oriented towards spirituality and peace. However, one of these new religious movements, the Aum Shinrikyo cult, became infamous in 1995 when its members carried out a deadly terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway.