International Institute for the Study of Religions
Religious Information Research Center
"Religious Articles Select 5" is the contents that introduce the Religious News Digest in Japan. All articles are picked up by Prof. Nobutaka Inoue who is the chief of RIRC, and selceted from the last "RIRC REPORT"; the publication for our members by the seasons.
May 21, 2004
The documentary "Hibakusha - At the end of the World," depicting the plight of victims of nuclear bombings and depleted uranium munitions, was awarded the movie award of the Japan Catholic Association for Communication (SIGNIS Japan). A subesequent award ceremony was held.
June 17, 2004
Niwano Nichiko, president of the Rissho Kosei-Kai, became the fifth person to be elected to the position of board chairman of the Federation of New Religious Organizations of Japan. Niwano also assumed the position of board chairman of the Japanese Association of Religious Organizations (JAORO) this year.
June 8, 2004
The congressional assembly of the Otani branch of the Jodo Shin school decided to oppose the proposed amendment of the Basic Law of Education, which would entail the introduction of a more nationalistic education. The Japan Buddhist Federation, on the other hand, is supporting the proposed amendment.
July 26, 2004
Adherents of various religious organizations in Tottori Prefecture held a conference under the title "Freedom of Religion and the Separation of State and Religion - Concerning the Revised Religious Juridicial Persons Law and the system of information disclosure." The conference addressed the issue of the disclosure by the prefectural administration of information taken from documents submitted by Religious Juridicial Persons. Tottori Governor Katayama Yoshihiro affirmed the policy of generally disclosing information held by the prefecture in accordance with prefectural regulations and also expressed that he felt documents submitted by Religious Juridicial Persons, in fact, included unnecessary documents.
July 30, 2004
Work on the movie "Thank you, father Ishii" (directed by Yamada Hisako) was completed, and a photo exhibition was held in Tokyo. Ishii Juji, the main protagonist of the movie, was a Christian and pioneer of child welfare, who saved 3000 orphans during the Meiji and Taisho periods.
After three years of discussions on the right or wrong of producing human clone embryos, the Committee of Bioethics (presided over by Yakushiji Taizo) - a subcommittee of the Council for Science and Technology (CST) - has given their principal approval for the creation of human clone embryomas with 10 of the 15 committee members voting in favour of the decision.
Kashihara Jingu in Kashihara Cty, Nara Prefecture, started distributing "soccer amulets" emblazoned with the Yatagarasu, the divine three-legged crow associated with Emperor Jinmu. The amulets are supposed to give spiritual aid to the Japanese soccer team during the qualification round for the 2006 World Cup and the Athens Olympics.
July 1, 2004
The 28th session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee was held in Suzhou, China, where the inscription of the sacred sites and pilgrimage routes in the Kii Mountain Range in Japan into the World Heritage List was decided. Included in the inscription are the sites of Kumano Sanzan, Mount Koya, and Yoshino and Omine, located in the three prefectures Wakayama, Mie, and Nara. It is the 12th inscription countrywide.
July 14, 2004
Concerning a lawsuit dealing with the issue whether a shrine located on the grounds of Shinshu University constitutes a breach of the constitutional principle of the Separation of State and Religion, the Tokyo High Court has rejected demands that the shrine be moved, while pointing out that the shrine does "contradict the spirit of the constitution."
The city of Tokyo has approved the Japanese branch of the Qi-Gong group Falungong, the Japan Falun Dafa Society, as a non-profit organization. Falungong is classified as an illegal organization by the Chinese government.
June 23, 2004
In response to three incidents in which bishops of the underground church in China were arrested and detained, the Holy See has issued a note of protest. The Chinese government retorted that the arrests were not related to religious issues.
July 15, 2004
The Korean Supreme Court has ruled that national security takes precedence over conscience based reasons for refusing military service and has thus shown signs that it will not recognize conscientious objectors.
July 22, 2004
Lt. Gracie Shin, associated with the San Francisco congregation of the Honganji branch of the Jodo Shin school of Japanese Buddhism, became the first commissioned Buddhist chaplain in the United States Armed Forces. The inauguration ceremony was held at the Pentagon. Lt. Shin performs sermons and is available for counseling at a facility for religious worship at the Naval Reserve Centre Alameda, Cal.
July 30, 2004
The Anglican Church of England formally launched its virtual "I-Church" on the internet. The site is operated by the Diocese of Oxford.
August 5, 2004
Police have raided the base of a religious group in an area of Nigeria's southern Anambra State known as the "Evil Forest" and discovered the remains of at least 50 people at several facilities of the group.