Global or Transnational Expansions of Japanese Religions? An Analysis Centering on Case Studies from Brazil.
Ronan Alves Pereira 〔ホナン・アルヴェス・ペレイラ〕
Adjunct Professor at University of Brasilia /Visiting Professor at University of Tokyo
〔ブラジリア大学准教授 / 東京大学客員教授〕
After a long period of self-seclusion, Japan had a "forced encounter with the West" and started interacting with the outer world chiefly by means of diplomacy, cultural and technological exchange, warfare, colonization, overseas investment, trade, and religion. Soon after, Japan too embarked in a nation-building quest connected to an ambitious modernizing project and military expansion. Here religion played a very important role in the construction of a sense of national unity as the government took the initiative to establish an emperor-centered and Shinto-based civil religion. This religion contrasted sharply with and transcended the traditional religious practice based on kinship and residence. From the Meiji era (1868-1912) on, religions were also instrumental in helping a large number of Japanese migrating to the newly annexed territories or to foreign countries such as Hawaii, the USA, Brazil, Peru and others.
As Peter Beyer and others have already pointed out religion connection to globalization can be understood through the lens of transnational migration, missionary efforts and links to socio-political movements with global effects. The case of Japanese religious expansion is no exception: up to the WW II it happened alongside the colonialist politics of Japan's empire as well as through migration and missionary efforts. Later on it was immensely helped by the Japanese prosperity from the 1960s throughout the 80s. Some religious organizations managed to get a reasonable membership in different countries to the point that scholars now talk about the globalization of Japanese religions.
This presentation will show that Japanese religious groups struggled to move from local to national scale, and some among them were able to cross the seas. However, this presentation will focus on case studies from Brazil to demonstrate first that there is a difference between transnational and global propagation. It will contend that, although globalization opened innumerable possibilities for religion, it is an exaggeration to apply the word "global" to Japan's overseas religious expansion, excepting from Soka Gakkai International. Also a case of the reconstruction of Ishizuchi beliefs and practices in Brazil will serve to illustrate how the global has been shaped locally at the same time as the local is ceaselessly subject to national and global influences. All in all, the overseas propagation of Japanese religions also reinforces the idea that religious globalization adds up to a counter-current against homogenization through diverse processes such as hybridization, "inculturation", syncretism, fundamentalism, interfaith dialogue and activities, etc.
RONAN A. PEREIRA is a professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Brasilia. He holds a M.A. degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Tokyo (1989) and a PhD in anthropology from the State University of Campinas (Brazil, 2001). Dr. Pereira is the author of Possess .A Nco por esp Nmrito e inova Ng Nco cultural: a experi Njncia religiosa das japonesas Miki Nakayama e Nao Deguchi (ACBJ/Massao Ohno, 92) and Japanese Religions in and Beyond Japanese Diaspora (co-edited with Hideaki Matsuoka) (University of California-Berkeley/IEAS, 2007), besides various papers on Japanese religions, Asian Studies in Brazil and others.