International Institute for the Study of Religions

Religious Information Research Center

Religious Articles Select 5 (Sep 2003 - Nov 2003)

About these articles

"Religious Articles Select 5" is the contents that introduce the Religious News Digest in Japan. All articles are picked up by Prof. Inoue who is the chief of RIRC, and selceted from the last "RIRC REPORT"; the publication for our members by the seasons.

Articles of the Past

From Specialized Publications

September, 2003
"Religious Trouble Special," a special issue of Consumer Law News, was published this month. The issue contains a great deal of information on the current state of many so-called cults and also on verdicts handed down in lawsuits against these groups.

September 20-21, 2003
Kokugakuin University held an international symposium dealing with the question of the translation of Shinto. The symposium was part of Kokugakuin's government-funded 21st Century Center of Excellenece (COE) program.

September 23, 2003
Toyohiro Tazawa, head of Shoroku Shinto Yamatoyama, died of lung cancer. Tazawa was a member of the Board of Religious Affairs and also served as a member of the executive board of the Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan and also in other capacities.

September 28, 2003
Arch-Bishop Stephen Fumio Hamao was created Cardinal by Pope John Paul II.

November 1-2, 2003
The 14th Dalai Lama was invited to Japan by a group of bipartisan lawmakers to address the "Tibetan problem." The Dalai Lama also gave a sermon at the Ryogoku Kokugikan and held a one-on-one discussion with Masatoshi Koshiba, the 2002 Nobel Laureate in physics.

Domestic News

October 14 ,2003
The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the Unification Church in which they contested a lower court verdict ordering them to pay some 30 million yen in damages to 17 former church members in Hokkaido. The Supreme Court upheld the previous first and second verdicts handed down by the lower courts and dismissed the Unification Church's appeal, giving the plaintiffs a victory.

October 21 ,2003
For their involvement in soliciting "treatment fees" for the "Association for Maintaining Health: Taido," (Now known as the Hoju-shu Hoju-kai), which employed "hand power" techniques to cure illnesses, the Fukuoka High Court ordered CEO Toshihisa Hiraki, former executive members, and affiliated companies to pay 34.6 million yen in damages to former members and their families. The High Court also dismissed the defendant's appeal. Furthermore, on October 31, a verdict was passed on a similar appeal filed against a lawsuit by former members from Fukuoka prefecture. The Fukuoka High Court ordered Taido to pay 65 million yen in damages and upheld the original verdict.

October 23 ,2003
The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education issued new rules on the national flag (Hinomaru) and on the national anthem (Kimigayo). The Board of Education also sent a notice entitled "Concerning the positioning of the national flag and the singing of the national anthem at entrance and graduation ceremonies" to all Tokyo public schools which indicated that employees who do not comply with the new rules will be punished.

October 24 ,2003
Congregation members and some 150 local residents opposed to a planned nuclear reactor demanded that the Association of Shinto Shrines clarify its reason for firing the head priest of the Sei-hachiman shrine (Kaminoseki, Kumage-gun, Yamaguchi Prefecture) in March 2003. Problems have arisen as a portion of the land that the shrine owns is part of an area where the Chugoku Electric Power Company intends to build its Kaminoseki reactor.

November 29 ,2003
A group composed primarily of condominium owners in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward, an area where a great number of followers of the religious group Aleph (Formerly known as Aum Shinrikyo) reside, established the "Association for Protecting Setagaya Ward from Aleph." The founding meeting was held at Setagaya's Karasuyama Civic Hall. The group plans on demanding that Aleph make its facilities open to public observation.

International News

September 4 ,2003
The EU demanded the abolishment of stoning as a form of capital punishment under Sharia penal law. The declaration by the EU was presented directly prior to a judicial appeal in Nigerian court for Amina Lawal, an alleged Nigerian "adulteress" sentenced to death by stoning, was scheduled to take place. Lawal was found innocent by the Nigerian Sharia Appeal Court.

October 5 ,2003
A Buddhist initiation ceremony was held for the Dalit, once-known as the so-called untouchables, in the city of Baroda, located in the Indian state of Gujarat. Some 5,000 Dalit converted from Hinduism to Buddhism at the initiation, held under the auspices of the World Buddhist Council. The Dalit are also occasionally referred to as the "Harijan," a name given to them by Mahatma Gandhi.

October 10 ,2003
Shirin Ebadi, a female Iranian lawyer, was awarded the Noble Peace Prize based on her efforts to provide equal footing for both Islam and human rights.

November 2 ,2003
The Episcopal Church consecrated Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as bishop of the New Hampshire Diocese in the city of Durham, New Hampshire, USA. The consecration is a source of much discussion in the Christian world.

November 5 ,2003
A metropolitan synagogue in Istanbul, Turkey, was bombed by extremists and 23 people were killed. The extremist Islamic group IBDAC claimed responsibility for the crime.

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