The key question in the contentious prewar history of shrines was their character. Were shrines religious or not? Belief that they were underlay an incident in 1932 when several Sophia University students failed to offer reverence at Yasukuni Shrine. The government had long refrained from pronouncing officially on the content of what took place at shrines, preferring to rely on the argument that jurisdictional arrangements made clear that shrines differed from religious institutions. On this occasion, in an effort to resolve the complications arising from the Sophia-Yasukuni incident, the Ministry of Education went further and issued a statement defining the purpose of having students show reverence at shrines: it was for educational reasons as it served to inculcate a patriotic spirit and an attitude of loyalty and fidelity. The attempt to shift the register of the debate from “religion” to “education” made room for an alternative explanation of the meaning of showing reverence at shrines. It did not really solve the problem, though, for embedded in the concept of “education” (kyōiku) was that of “teaching” (kyō), and controversy over the relationship between shrines and “teaching” antedated and had become entangled with the debate over the relationship between shrines and “religion” (shūkyō). Consideration of some dimensions of this earlier controversy should amplify our understanding of the implications of what happened in 1932 and, beyond that, provide an entry into the much-contested issue of what was “State Shinto.”
Kate Wildman Nakai received her higher education at Stanford University (B.A., 1963; M.A., 1964) and Harvard University (Ph.D., East Asian Languages and Civilizations, 1972). After holding teaching posts at Harvard and the University of Oregon, in 1980 she joined the Department of Comparative Culture (presently the Faculty of Liberal Arts) of Sophia University, where she taught premodern Japanese history. From 1997 to 2010 she served concurrently as editor of Monumenta Nipponica. Her research has focused on Tokugawa intellectual history, particularly the thought and political program of Arai Hakuseki and various aspects of the late Mito school. She is currently engaged in a study of the 1932 Sophia University–Yasukuni Shrine incident and the late Edo and Meiji history of Shinto.
The talk will be held in English (Japanese outline will be provided).
Access to Sophia University: http://www.sophia.ac.jp/J/sogo.nsf/Content/access_yotsuya
Campus map: http://www.sophia.ac.jp/J/sogo.nsf/Content/campusmap_yotsuya
NOTICE: A reception will follow the talk. Please RSVP by April 14 to Ms. Shinohara Junko firstname.lastname@example.org (03-3238-3543) if you are able to attend.
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