Religious organizations and political parties share a common characteristic: both promise a better life. The terms and concepts they use differ, but the similarities overweigh: politicians and parties in Japan usually include the three “an” into their speeches and manifestos: anshin (carefree), anzen (secure) and antei (stable). Religious organizations are often more complex in their terminology, but their teachings also refer to ideas of sanctuary, stability and peace of mind. On both sides, the promise of a better life appeals very much to human nature.
A significant and obvious difference between religion and politics is that the former refers (to varying degrees) to an other world. Promises of spiritual salvation are integral elements of religious teachings. The impression that religion and its institutions therefore are different from politics, however, has eclipsed the simple fact that both are very much institutions of human society and real life. One obvious piece of evidence is supplied by those religious organizations that advertise elements of their belief as instruments for improvement of society or even have a declared political agenda.
This conference will look at the inner workings of religious organizations in Japan and try to analyze ideas of happiness and a better life that they promote as political objectives. It will investigate present-day forms of political intervention on the part of religious organizations, be it with regard to single issues or in the form of a political party.
Presentations will be in Japanese or English, respectively.
Translation will only be provided for the discussions and Q&A, not for presentations themselves.