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-Japan: Role of Religion in a Time of Disaster

by Dr. D ~ March 16th, 2011

Symbol of Shintoism, white and golden version.

                                      (Image via Wikipedia)

Here’s an article by CNN.com Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff: How Japan’s religions confront tragedy

According to Gilgoff:

Proud of their secular society, most Japanese aren’t religious in the way Americans are: They tend not to identify with a single tradition nor study religious texts.  …

When there is a funeral, though, Japanese religious engagement tends to be pretty intense. …

In the days and weeks ahead, huge numbers of Japanese will be turning to their country’s religious traditions as they mourn the thousands of dead and try to muster the strength and resources to rebuild amid the massive destruction wrought by last Friday’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami. …

For most Japanese, religion is more complex than adhering to the country’s ancient Buddhist tradition. They blend Buddhist beliefs and customs with the country’s ancient Shinto tradition, which was formalized around the 15th century. …

where Christianity, Judaism or Islam are often preoccupied with causes of disaster – the questions of why God would allow an earthquake, for example – Eastern traditions like Buddhism and Shinto focus on behavior in reaction to tragedy.

A good article with quotes from several experts on how religion factors in Japanese responses to disaster. From other sources I have heard that the small Christian minority in Japan (2-4% of the population) are responding in prayer for their country and for their friends and relatives.

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