This paper asks whether public commemorations in contemporary Japan are post-secular or not. More precisely, it investigates the postwar history of the relationship between such commemorations and the principle of keeping religion and government separate, as embodied in the constitution. Referring to several contemporary cases, I provide an overview of the discourses and actual conditions of the separation of religion and state at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery (Chidorigafuchi Kokuritsu Senbotsusha Boen 千鳥ヶ淵国立戦没者墓苑) and Yasukuni Shrine (Yasukuni Jinja 靖国神社). In conclusion, I point out on one hand that the non-denominational expressions seen in Chidorigafuchi and other facilities show a distinctive kind of religious expression. On the other hand, I underscore that the excessive avoidance of religious participation by government officials derives from the Yasukuni issue and related legal trials. I explain the relationship of those phenomena in terms of two types of secularization: natural secularization and artificial secularization.
Journal of Religion in Japan – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2016
Keywords: commemorations; separation of religion and government; Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery; Yasukuni Shrine; secularization
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