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Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien

Religious organizations and the politics of happiness

This project deals with the promise of happiness as articulated at the interface of religion and politics. 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 the 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 project has two major objectives. It investigates present-day forms of political intervention on the part of religious organizations and it directs its focus at the ideas of happiness and a better life that religious organizations promote as political objectives.

This project is conducted in cooperation with the Institute of Policy Studies at Chūō University (Tōkyō).

Staff

Previous Staff

Axel Klein Axel Klein
(Japanese Studies, Political Science)

Related Research Projects or Programs

Happiness in Japan: Continuities and Discontinuities

Events

November 19, 2009
DIJ Forum
Sōka Gakkai and the Politics of Happiness

September 18, 2009
Workshops
Religion and Politics in Japan

November 19, 2009
Symposia and Conferences
Religious Organizations and the Politics of Happiness