The Policy Relevance of Religion in Japan Today

April 12, 2019
12:30 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. EDT
Location: Intercultural Center (ICC) Room 302-P Map

Japan ranks as one of the world's least religious countries in the world. It is therefore striking to note the strong influence of religion on Japan's governing coalition: Prime Minister Abe Shinzō's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), in alliance with Komeito. A majority of LDP Diet members belong to Nippon Kaigi (Japan Conference), an organization that consists of a consortium of religious and otherwise ideologically motivated organizations that take credit for formulating key policy initiatives, such as efforts toward constitutional revision. Komeito was founded by the Buddhist lay association Soka Gakkai, whose members mobilize in every election as Japan's most reliable voting bloc. Significant changes now underway within Nippon Kaigi participant communities and Soka Gakkai promise to affect the government's constitutional revision aims.

Just returned from six months of intensive participant observation in Japan, North Carolina State University Associate Professor Levi McLaughlin outlined key points now coming to the fore within politically influential Japanese religious groups that analysts must take into account in advance of the July 2019 national election. A Q&A followed, moderated by Troy Robinson, editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Journal of Asian Affairs and current master of science in foreign service candidate.

This event was co-sponsored by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and the Asian Studies Program.

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