Japan’s Modernization and the Persecution of Buddhism

URI http://harp.lib.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/hue/metadata/10523
ファイル
タイトル
Japan’s Modernization and the Persecution of Buddhism
著者
氏名 Hotta Chisato
ヨミ ホッタ チサト
別名
内容記述

This paper explores the purposes and consequences of the persecution of Buddhism in the early Meiji period (1868-1912). The Meiji government attempted to establish the legitimacy of the new state through the Shinto-based divine status of the emperor while pursuing anti-Buddhism policies and promoting Shinto as the state religion. By reinventing Shinto as an independent religion and ending the Shinto-Buddhism syncretism, the policy of shinbutsu bunri (separation of Shinto and Buddhism) aimed at the elimination of Buddhism's influence on society in order to construct a new political and social order; simultaneously, the state tried to form national unity based on loyalty toward the emperor. As soon as the Separation Edict was ordered in April 1868, the persecution of Buddhism took place throughout Japan, resulting in the destruction of many temples, statues, and images (haibutsu kishaku). In this process, followers of Hirata Atsutane, the school of National Learning (Kokugaku or Nativism), played an important role in executing anti-Buddhist policies and violent actions. Although some Buddhists like the Shin sect fought back, the damages inflicted on Buddhism were immense and resulted in an indelible change of Japanese cultural history. Buddhism was persecuted partly because of its association with the stagnant, hierarchical order of the Tokugawa bakufu (1603-1868). Since Buddhism enjoyed a privileged position under the patronage of the old regime, many Buddhist temples became rich and powerful and performed the function of social control. However, many temples collapsed which evoked anger among ordinary people and low-ranking samurai who were faced with harsh economic realities. Furthermore, Buddhism was regarded as a foreign religion and its characteristics, including passivity and resignation were incompatible with bunmei kaika (Civilization and Enlightenment), which meant adopting the utilitarian, rational, and scientific aspects of Western civilization. Moreover, the state tried to modernize Japan to catch up with the West under a slogan of fukoku kyohei (a wealthy nation and a strong army) while proclaiming “returning to ancient time” (osei fukko) to unite a new nation under the emperor. Buddhism became the major obstacle to achieving such goals. Consequently, Buddhism's status and governmental role were replaced by Shinto. By persecuting Buddhism, the Meiji government aimed to control the institutional power of religion, as well as people's daily lives and consciousness, through the emperor ideology. Although Buddhists struggled to find a way to regain their position in society, they had little choice but to conform with the new national policy.

掲載雑誌名
広島経済大学研究論集
35
1
開始ページ
61
終了ページ
73
出版年月日
2012-06
出版者
広島経済大学経済学会
ISSN
0387-1444
NCID
AN00408380
本文言語
日本語
資料タイプ
紀要論文
著者版フラグ
出版社版
旧URI
区分
hue