State Shinto

Authored by: Kate Wildman Nakai

Routledge Handbook of Modern Japanese History

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138815186
eBook ISBN: 9781315746678
Adobe ISBN:


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The term State Shinto and the phenomena subsumed under it have been objects of ongoing controversy. The Allied Occupation adopted the term immediately after World War II to refer to what the occupation authorities saw as a de facto state religion imposed on the populace from the Meiji period on. State Shinto, as they defined it, centred on enforced reverence at shrines; it had also promoted emperor worship and had been instrumental in fanning an extreme form of nationalism. Many scholars, Japanese and foreign, have accepted and further developed this characterization. Others, however, have criticized it as overly sweeping and schematic and as failing to take account of significant shifts in government policy concerning shrines between the 1860s and 1940s. The chapter examines the evolving place of shrines in prewar Japanese society through the lens of these debates.

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