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.
The Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja Honcho) published the following basic views regarding the issues surrounding the Yasukuni Shrine and expressed their support for the shrine: 1.) Yasukuni Shrine is the central facility for the commemoration of the war dead, 2.) separation of the worshipped deities in the sense of worshipping them separately is impossible based on the principles of shrine-based worship, 3.) all domestic and international negotiations regarding the shrine should be rejected and the prime minister ought to continue his visits to the shrine, 4.) enshrinement of the so-called “Class A War Criminals” is in correspondence with the position of the government and a resolution made by parliament.
The Jinrui Aizenkai, a group related to Oomoto, has opened its “Mongolia Centre” in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, as the result of contacts with that country begun in June 2004. In the future, it is planned that through this facility Jinrui Aizenkai will provide guidance on agricultural technologies as well as medical and educational support.
The Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Japan published current statistics on the state of the Catholic Church in Japan. According to this data, the number of registered believers increased by two-hundred persons compared to the preceding year to the total number of four-hundred fifty-thousand one-hundred twenty-five Catholics. The total number of priests, monastics, and theology students has dropped by two-hundred and twelve to eight-thousand six-hundred eleven. The number of baptisms has decreased by two-hundred twenty-three to seven-thousand four-hundred twenty-five baptisms.
The 26th Conference for Japanese-Korean Buddhist Cultural Exchange was held at the temple Sudeoksa of the Jogye school of Korean Buddhism in the Chungcheongnam-do district, Korea, under the topic “Nature and Bio-Ethics.” The director of the Council for Japanese-Korean Buddhist Cultural Exchange, Reverend MIAYBAYASHI Shogen from Japan, expressed remorse in his opening address for “the shameful historical fact that Japan invaded Korea.”
Article 88 of the Japanese Religious Corporations Law (Penal Regulations) was revised as part of the preparation of accompanying statutes following the enactment of the new Corporation Law. The new regulation changed the lowest category of fines from “under ten-thousand yen” to “under one-hundred thousand yen.”
The supreme court rejected the final appeal of three-hundred twenty-three members of Soka Gakkai, who had filed charges asking for two-hundred sixty million yen from the temple Taisekiji of the Nichiren Shoshu school of Buddhism in Fujinomiya city, Shizuoka Prefecture. As their reason, the plaintiffs cited mental anguish caused by the temple’s one-sided decision to dismantle the main temple hall that had been partly erected using donations made by them.
In the case of heavy fraud surrounding the religious corporation Ho no Hana Sanpogyo that was dissolved in 2001, the Tokyo District court has sentenced the former representative of the group, FUKUNAGA Hogen, to twelve years in prison and another former high-ranking functionary of the group, MAESAWA Akemi, to four years in prison.
Prime minister KOIZUMI Junichiro`s private advisory body “The Advisory Council on the Imperial Household Law” led by chairperson YOSHIKAWA Hiroyuki published a list of discussion points. Regarding the issue of imperial succession, the document listed a proposal limiting succession only to male members of the imperial family belonging to the male line, as well as a proposal to open succession to imperial daughters and offspring from the female line.
The hearing and ruling concerning an appeal for the payment of ten-thousand yen of damages per person by the Japanese state, the Japanese prime minister, and Yasukuni Shrine to a group of three-hundred thirty-eight war bereaved (one-hundred seventeen of which are residents of the Republic of Korea) claiming that the visit of prime minister Koizumi to the Yasukuni Shrine on 13 August 2001 was unconstitutional were held at the Osaka High Court. Presiding judge OIDE Akiyuki rejected the plaintiffs’ appeal stating that “the plaintiffs’ claim of a violation has no legal grounding.”
The New Constitution Drafting Committee overseen by former prime minister Mori of the Liberal Democratic Party officially released the full draft of their proposed new constitution. Regarding freedom of religion, a passage reading “excepting cases falling into the category of social etiquette” was added to the current constitution prohibiting the state and its organs to engage in religious education or other religious activities.
In Changshun city, Guilin Province, China, a large number of members belonging to unauthorized Christian groups was uncovered. Apart from approximately one-thousand homes being searched for underground churches, roughly six-hundred persons were arrested. It has been reported that many of those arrested are intellectuals such as students and university professors.
The advisory body on Chinese matters of the American Congress and government held a public hearing concerning the issue of forced labor in China. According to data provided by the advisory body, there are currently around four-hundred thousand persons in forced labor. Among these, persons arrested for political, ideological, and religious offenses provide the majority of forced laborers. In particular, with sixty-thousand in forced labor persons related to Falun Gong make up a substantial percentage of the overall number.
For the first time, a judicial flogging has been carried out in the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalem region, Indonesia. Nanggroe Aceh Darussalem incorporated Islamic law when it was turned into a special autonomous region in 2003, and is the only administrative region of Indonesia to have done so.
A seventy-five year old female follower of Jainism fasted herself to death in the central Indian town of Ganj Basoda in Madhya Pradesh State. The woman had been fasting for six months, and there had been continued reports on the state of her fast in the media. The local authorities did not intervene, describing the fast as a religious act. Several thousand persons paid their respects at the woman’s funeral.
In an act of terrorism, simultaneous bombings occurred in three locations of the London underground system. Additionally, a bombing occurred on a double-decker bus, and more than fifty dead were claimed by the four attacks. Al-Qaeda in Europe and the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigade claimed responsibility for the attacks, but nothing substantial is known about these organizations.