Tuesday, December 15, 2015

70 years ago: Allied occupying authorities in Japan abolish State Shinto

On December 15, 1945, Assistant Adjutant General Colonel H.W. Allen, on behalf of Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in Japan General Douglas MacArthur, issued the Shinto Directive, abolishing state support for the Shinto religion, the faith that had provided the religious underpinning for Japanese militarism and imperialism.

Notable passages of the Shinto Directive include:

It is hereby directed that:

a. The sponsorhsip, support, perpetuation, control and dissemination of Shinto by the Japanese national, prefectural, and local governments, or by public officials, subordinates, and employees acting in their official capacity are prohibited and will cease immediately.

b. All financial support from public funds and all official affiliation with Shinto and Shinto shrines are prohibited and will cease immediately...

...c. All propagation and dissemination of militaristic and ultranationalistic ideology in Shinto doctrines, practices, rites, ceremonies, or observances, as well as in the doctrines, practices, rites, ceremonies, and observances of any other religion, faith, sect, creed, or philosophy, are prohibited and will cease immediately...

...f. All public educational institutions whose primary function is either the investigation and dissemination of Shinto or the training of a Shinto priesthood will be abolished and their physical properties diverted to other uses. Their present functions, duties and administrative obligations will not be assumed by any other governmental or tax-supported agency...

...h. The dissemination of Shinto doctrines in any form and by any means in any educational institution supported wholly or in part by public funds is prohibited and will cease immediately...

...j. The use in offcial writings of the terms "Greater East Asia War" (Dai Toa Senso), The Whole World Under One Roof (Hakko Ichi-u), and all other terms whose connotation in Japanese is inextricably connected with State Shinto, militarism, and ultra-nationalism is prohibited and will cease immediately.

k. God-shelves (Kamidana) and all othe physical symbols of State Shinto in any office, school, institution, organization, or structure supported wholly or in part by public funds are prohibited and will be removed immediately...

...m. No official of the national, prefectural, or local government, acting in his public capacity, will visit any shrine to report his assumption of office, to report on conditions of government or to participate as a representative of government in any capacity or observance.

2 a. The purpose of this directive is to separate religion from the state, to prevent misuse of religion for political ends, and to put all religions, faiths, and creeds upon exactly the same basis, entitled to precisely the same opportunites and protection. It forbids affiliation with the government and the propagation and dissemination of militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology not only to Shinto but to the followers of all religions, faiths, sects, creeds, or philosophies...

...c. The term State Shinto within the meaning of this directive will refer to that branch of Shinto (Kokka Shinto or Jinja Shinto) which by official acts of the Japanese Government has been differentiated from the religion of Sect Shinto (Shuha Shinto or Kyoha Shinto) and has been classified as a non-religious cult commonly known as State Shinto, National Shinto, or Shrine Shinto.

d. The term Sect Shinto (Shuha Shinto or Kyoha Shinto) will refer to that branch of Shinto (composed of 13 recognized sects) which by popular belief, legal commentary, and the official acts of the Japanese Government has been recognized to be a religion.

e...(1) Sect Shinto will enjoy the same protection as any other religion.

(2) Shrine Shinto, after having been divorced from the state and divested of its militaristic and ultra-nationalistic elements, will be recognized as a religion if its adherents so desire and will be granted the same protection as any other religion in so far as it may in fact be the philosophy or religion of Japanese individuals.

...f. Militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology, as used in this directive, embraces those teachings, beliefs, and theories which advocate or justify a mission on the part of Japan to extend its rule over other nations and peoples by reason of:

(1) The doctrine that the Emperor of Japan is superior to the heads of other states because of ancestry, descent, or special origin.

(2) The doctrine that the people of Japan are superior to the people of other lands because of ancestry, descent, or special origin.

(3) The doctrine that the islands of Japan are superior to other lands because of divine or special origin.

(4) Any other doctrine which tends to delude the Japanese people into embarking upon wars of aggression or to glorify the use of force as an instrument for the settlements of disputes with other peoples.
The first dramatic result of the Shinto Directive was that Emperor Hirohito issued the Humanity Declaration on January 1, 1946, denying that he was a living god.

A more recent example of the effects of the Shinto Directive occurred on February 18, 2002, when U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Laura visited the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo (and the allegedly "Christian" Mr. Bush committed an act of worship, angering Christians in Japan and South Korea. As reported by The Japan Times, February 19, 2002:

U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, on Monday visited Meiji Shrine, a major venue for Shinto worshippers in Tokyo.

Bush and the first lady paid their respects by bowing in front of the main shrine hall before signing a registry book, including a brief comment on their visit.

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi did not accompany Bush to the shrine, apparently to avoid a stir over the constitutional separation of state and religion.

However, Koizumi later joined Bush on the grounds of the shrine to watch a display of “yabusame,” or traditional mounted archery.

The shrine in Shibuya Ward is dedicated to Emperor Meiji (1852-1912) and his consort, Empress Shoken (1850-1914). The emperor was famous for transforming Japan from an isolated and feudal country into a modern world power during his reign. Bush’s visit was said to symbolize Japan’s need to take bold reform steps.

Originally built in 1920, the shrine was destroyed by a U.S. air raid on April 14, 1945. It was rebuilt in 1958.

The visit was arranged at the request of Bush, who reportedly hoped to get a sense of the country’s traditional culture...

...When former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan visited the shrine on their visits to Japan, the prime ministers at the time also declined to accompany them.

Koizumi angered Japan’s neighbors in August when he visited Yasukuni Shrine, which is dedicated to Japan’s war dead, including Class-A Japanese war criminals. He did not specify at that time whether he was visiting in a private or official capacity.
It's hard to imagine in 2015 that an American governing authority would officially prohibit a religion of militarism and imperial conquest.

No comments:

Post a Comment