Ein Shinto-Schrein, die Verfassung und der Friede

KYODAN pastor denounces the Emperor system

Tennôsei to shûkyô hihan > The Emperor System and Religious Criticism

by KUWABARA Shigeo, Shakai Hyôronsha, Tokyo

1986, pp. 258. Yen 2,000.

This book's contents and the author's basic perspectives need to be first introduced before my own comments are added.

The first part, headed "The emperor and the people," focuses on relations between the emperor system and Yasukuni Shrine. This part consists of five separate lectures or magazine articles with the following titles: "Religious criticism of the emperor system" (12-42), "The 'Shôwa' [era] relations of emperor system and people" (43-59), "The emperor as symbol and the Yasukuni problem" (60-95), "The emperor system versus people's rule in a modern state" (96-119), and "Japan's festivals [matsuri] in a high-tech age" (120-39).

Throughout these chapters the author has two basic concerns: to depict accurately the place of the emperor system and Yasukuni Shrine in state structures, and to discuss critically the function of religious factors in politics; and second, to provide, from a genuine religious basis, a contemporary critique of current phenomena properly called the "religious boom."

"Religion and the State" is the heading of part two. It also has five chapters, throughout which the author develops his religious critique in terms of both pressing social is-uses and the evolving efforts to forge a needed Christian critique, which is the basis of his own statements and actions. The five chapter titles are: "Christianity and illusions of state" (140-73), "Christianity and the emperor system" (174-96), "The United Church of Christ in Japan [Kyôdan] and 'theological' criticisms" (197-218), "How should we now read KIM Chi-ha?" (219-31), and "How should we read the Bible today?" (232-55).

In these chapters the author's chief concerns are: Christianity as "an effective tool of the ruling classes from Paul's time to modern capitalist society" (186); and what is the historical role played by the kind of Christianity that is converted into "an ideology that accommodates established powers by inverting idea and reality"? (186,208)

First among my own comments on this book is that I definitely learned a lot about the profound reasons why movements opposing Yasukuni Shrine must be linked to those opposing the emperor system. This point is made with clear and compelling logic, traceable in key words that illuminate many issues - such as "common illusions" that affect roles played by Yasukuni Shrine, the emperor system, and even Christianity in Japan; and "hard" and "soft" factors of the emperor system. The point is also buttressed by persuasive references, including the author's own experiences, a fanciful anecdote about "Three brave bombardiers," and the intimate links between the ruling Liberal-Democratic Party and the information blitz mounted in Japan by Dentsu (advertising agency).

The author's warning, in connection with anti-Yasukuni movements, against infringements of religious freedom, and of violations of the principle of separation of religion and the state and his appeal to persons involved in other struggles to join in solidarity in the anti-Yasukuni movement, convinced this reviewer of the need for a new awareness and self-reform, so as to stand steadfast in the face of confrontation. This was a terrifying book to read. At present as one personally deeply involved in "The Society to Save KIM Choi Hyun," "The Association to Protect Congenital Biliary Atresia Children," "Sugamo Tokiwa Church [Kyôdan]," and "The Northern Subdistrict of Tokyo Dist. [Kyôdan]," I felt this to be a difficult book to grapple with one I could review adequately only when I confront personally the issues being raised by the writer.

Quite frankly, I would advise readers to scan the various headings and begin reading with what seems interesting. I say this after having spent two full weeks reading the book four times while taking copious notes.

Rezension von FUJIWARA Takanori (tr. by DLS)
Kyôdan Newsletter 208, September 20, 1986

Pfr. KUWABARA Shigeo war viele Jahre Mitglied in der Kommission für Gesellschaftsfragen, im Ausschuss für Koreabeziehungen des Kyodan und engagiert in vielen Initiativen, die mit Menschenrechten zu tun haben. Außerdem Pfarrer einer Gemeinde im Kansai-Bezirk.


Japanische Bücher

Tennosei to shukyo hihan
Kuwabara Shigeo
Shakai Hyoronsha,
Tokyo 1986

Shōchō to girei : tairon
Tomura Masahiro und Kuwabara Shigeo
Kisekisha / Hatsubaimoto Shakai Hyōronsha, Tokyo 1990


Der Yasukuni-Schrein (2007)



Yasukuni-Schrein: alle Beiträge