In opinion polls, Japan routinely reports the lowest rates of any country's population in response to the question "do you have religious faith?" Japan's 1947 Constitution reinforces an impression of Japan's allergy to religion by including multiple articles that separate religion from state. For these and other reasons, people in Japan today are often characterized as highly averse to religion, particularly as it may appear in the public sphere.
It is therefore striking to note the seemingly disproportionate impact religions and religion-adjacent activists exert on vote-gathering, policymaking, and other political activities. In this talk, Dr. Levi McLaughlin will provide an overview of Shinto-affiliated nationalists (including Nippon Kaigi and its signatories), Buddhist activists (including Soka Gakkai and its affiliated party Komeito), and other actors to reconcile the incommensurate image of Japan as non-religious with the persistence of Japan's religiously-inspired political engagements.