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Why is 'Religion' a problematic category in the analysis of Japanese institutions and culture?

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Introduction

7212 Religious Studies Why is 'Religion' a problematic category in the analysis of Japanese institutions and culture? Many Japanese people don't recognise themselves as religious, however at certain points in their lives and at particular times of the year they take part in overtly 'religious' activities such as preying and visiting shrines apparently without . The actions of the Japanese clearly don't fit in with "western norms of religiosity" (McFarland, 1991.) For example commitment to a single chosen religion, frequent participation in religious services and the study of doctrines and scriptures. Japan has a rich, diverse culture because of the many ideologies and technologies that have been imported to the region over the centuries. However these have been specifically 'Japanized' and assimilated into Japanese thinking. The history of Japan is central to the structure of Japanese society today, for example the Japanese internal system for counting time based on the rule of different emperors and the American occupation. ...read more.

Middle

The emperor was again given power. This era saw the opening of Japan to the rest of the world. The Japanese were forced to sign unequal treaties with the west, granting them one-sided economical and legal advantages in Japan. Japan recognised that to regain independence it would be necessary to modernize many aspects of Japanese society. The aims were to make Japan a democratic sate with equality for its entire people so the boundaries between the social classes of the last era were broken down. Compulsory education was introduced as well as universal conscription to bring Japan in line with the west's military prowess. The Japanese saw this more of a learning process, a way of modernising their country and keeping the west from colonising Japan this is speculated because of the development of In order to transform the agrarian economy of Tokugawa Japan into a developed industrial one, many Japanese scholars were sent abroad to study Western science and languages, while foreign experts taught in Japan. ...read more.

Conclusion

The ruling clique, however, kept on holding the actual power, and the able and intelligent emperor Meiji agreed with most of their actions. Political parties did not yet gain real power due to the lack of unity among their members. Conflicts of interests in Korea between China and Japan led to the Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95. Japan defeated China, received Taiwan, but was forced by Russia, France and Germany to return other territories. The so called Triple Intervention caused the Japanese army and navy to intensify their rearmament. New conflicts of interests in Korea and Manchuria, this time between Russia and Japan, led to the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-05. The Japanese army also won this war gaining territory and finally some international respect. Japan further increased her influence on Korea and annexed her completely in 1910. In Japan, the war successes caused nationalism to increase even more, and other Asian nations also started to develop national self confidence. In 1912 emperor Meiji died, and the era of the ruling clique of elder statesmen (genro) was about to end. ...read more.

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