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.
September 26, 2004
The inauguration ceremony of the Research and Information Institute for Asian Religious Culture was held at Bukkyo University. The institute also houses a museum for religious culture, through which its research findings are made accessible to the public.
October 1, 2004
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan published statistics concerning the age of priests and monastic clergy. The statistics show that the average age of priests is 61, and that clergy in their 70s form the most numerous age group. Additionally, according to a survey conducted by the editorial board of the Christian Yearbook, the number of Christians in Japan in September 2004 was approximately 1.130.000. 1.127.363 of these are non-clergy members of Christian denominations and 11.389 belong to the clergy, meaning the total number of Christians in Japan has increased by 6.408 and the number of clergy has decreased by 362.
October 7, 2004
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of its founding, the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism organized an evening of lectures and musical performances. Through 40 years of work, the Teaching of Buddha has been translated into 41 languages, are available in 56 countries, and more than 10.000 hotels have been furnished with these works. Some 17 million copies have been distributed by the society.
October 8, 2004
The Soji Academy in Yokohama, comprising educational facilities ranging from graduate programs at Tsurumi University to kindergartens, held a ceremony in honor of its 80th anniversary.
October 18, 2004
The founding conference of the Teranet EN network was held at the Buddhist temple Tsukiji Hongwanji in Tokyo. Teranet EN is an alliance of various Buddhist temples and other groups dealing with issues of adolescents who refuse to attend school and so-called "shut-in" adolescents who have withdrawn completely from society. The Zenseikyo Foundation for Youth and Welfare has played a central role in the formation of the network. Seventeen Buddhist temples and other organizations are currently involved in the project.
The Japanese Sumo Association (Nihon Sumo Kyokai) has expressed the opinion at a lecture class for the elite wrestlers in the top two divisions that wrestlers should have the same state of mind as when receiving offerings when receiving their prize money and ought to make chopping motions with their right hand towards the referee, who is considered to be a messenger from the deities.
A Honden Senza ceremony, in which the spirit of the deity is moved to the newly built main shrine hall and is performed once every thirty-three years, was held at the Konpira Shrine located in the town of Kotohira, Kagawa prefecture.
October 28, 2004
The professional Go player and member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Board of Education, Yonenaga Kunio, attended the autumn festivities presided over by the Emperor and the Empress held at the Akasaka Gyoen Imperial garden. Concerning his function as board member, Yonenaga commented on this occasion that he believes it is his duty to ensure that the national flag is hoisted and the national anthem sung at schools throughout Japan. The Emperor, on the other hand, stated that he did not think it desirable that these practices should become compulsory.
November 12, 2004
The government held a liaison conference for all government agencies involved in countermeasures against Aum Shinrikyo, and it was formally decided that the laws prohibiting the group will continue to remain in place.
Katayama Yoshihiro, the governor of Tottori prefecture, announced that he would propose special legislation at the National Assembly that will allow prefectures to independently determine the extent of documentation of finances to be submitted by juristic religious bodies.
August 27:, 2004
A delegation from the Vatican visited Moscow, and returned the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan to Patriarch Alexey II.
October 12, 2004
The supreme religious authority for Shia Muslims in Iraq, Ayatollah Sistani, issued a fatwa urging all eligible voters, regardless of gender, to register at voter registration centers.
October 26, 2004
The Israeli parliament voted on the issue of withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, and the motion was approved with 67 votes in favor of the withdrawal, 45 against it, and 7 votes of abstention.
November 2, 2004
The Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who had depicted violence against women in Islam in his short film "Submission," was assassinated by a radical Muslim.
November 12, 2004
The head of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat, who had passed away at the Percy Military Hospital on the outskirts of Paris on November 11, was buried in a tomb at his compound in Ramallah, after he had been flown to Cairo, where funeral rites were performed.