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 on the island in the 6th century CE and blended extensively with Shinto, the indigenous tradition of Japan. State Shinto evolved in the 19th 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 Japan’s defeat in World War II. The emperor remains the highest authority of Shinto but his role is purely ceremonial, and Japanese politics are firmly secular. Most Japanese practice Shinto rituals for life events, and Christian-style weddings due to the influx of Western popular culture. Despite engaging in these faith-based rituals, 70% of Japanese identify as belonging to no religion. New religious movements, often rooted in Shinto-Buddhist concepts, have become very popular and may count tens of millions of adherents.