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The Shinto Directive was an order issued in 1945 to the Japanese government by Occupation authorities to abolish state support for the Shinto religion. This unofficial "State Shinto" was thought by Allies to have been a major contributor to Japan's nationalistic and militant culture that led to World War II. The purpose of the directive was ostensibly based in ideas of freedom of religion and separation of church and state.
|Abolition of Governmental Sponsorship, Support, Perpetuation, Control, and Dissemination of State Shinto|
|Enacted by||Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers|
|Date enacted||December 15, 1945|
After the Second World War, it was generally understood by Allied students of Japanese culture and religion that Shinto in the form it took leading up to and during the war was social propaganda and was used as a tool of ultra-nationalism and a disguise for militarism. However, even though this support of Shinto was defined as non-religious propaganda[by whom?], in the Allied schools it was being taught as religious in nature. Thus, it was US policy regarding post-surrender Japan to abolish "State Shinto," which was not and never had been a formal Imperial policy. The directive, SCAPIN 448, was drafted by the US Military’s expert on Japanese culture and religion, Lieutenant William K. Bunce, U.S.N.R. and was issued on December 15, 1945 with the full title of "Abolition of Governmental Sponsorship, Support, Perpetuation, Control, and Dissemination of State Shinto (Kokka Shinto, Jinja Shinto)". There were two translations given for the term "State Shinto": the first ("Kokka Shinto") was a neologism, and the second ("Jinja Shinto") referred to Shinto shrines, which up until 1945 had been secular wards of the state.
According to the directive, State Shinto was to be stripped of public support and of its "ultra-nationalistic and militaristic" trappings. With the severing of its traditional state patronage the Shinto establishment required privatization, and to that end any Shinto entity that had been dependent on public funding but not actually part of the secular administrative structure was to be assimilated either into what the directive calls "Sect Shinto" with no special privileges above the other popular faiths, or to be reformed, with conditions stipulating complete and permanent loss of government support, as "Shrine Shinto," which was to be supported by voluntary private donation only.[non-primary source needed]
No public funds whatsoever could therefore be used to support Shinto shrines or priests in any manner, nor any other entities that were at all associated with the Shinto religion. Public officials whose duties were in any way directly connected to Shinto religion were immediately to be terminated from office and their positions extinguished. Under the directive, Japan's Emperor could no longer report on public matters to his ancestors in official visits to the shrines. Instead, he was permitted to worship only non-officially and as a private individual, as were all government officials permitted to do.
Any educational material considered to convey "Shinto doctrine" was to be categorically censored out of school textbooks, along with any content that at all suggested any positive effects of or justification for any of Japan's military actions in past wars. Public officials alike were forbidden any mention of anything that could be construed as being in any way religious, let alone Shinto, while performing duties in their official capacities. This was meant to stop the propagation of supposed "militaristic and ultra-nationalistic ideology" in particular, which was especially proscribed if conveyed in connection with Shinto or any other creed.
These three alleged doctrines were specifically banned: (1) that the Emperor is superior to other rulers because he is descended of the sun goddess Amaterasu; (2) that the Japanese people are inherently superior to other peoples by their special ancestry or heritage, or (3) that the Japanese islands are spiritually superior to other lands, being specially blessed by the goddess Amaterasu.
As a result of the directive, a stream of instructions from the government were issued covering a wide range of prohibitions concerning Japanese culture and rites. Pupils at state schools and children of pre-school age were prohibited from being taken on field trips to religious institutions; local town committees were prohibited from fundraising for shrines; groundbreaking (jichinsai) and roof-raising rites (jōtōsai) were not to be performed for public buildings; state and public bodies were prohibited from conducting funerals and rites of propitiation for the war dead; and the removal and/or erection of commemorative sites to the war dead were regulated by the directive. However, the directive was lenient towards imperial court rites.
Initially, the directive was rigidly applied. This led to numerous complaints and grievances from local people.[who?] In 1949, halfway through the occupation, the directive came to be applied with greater discretion. Typical of this leniency was the approval granted to state funerals which entailed religious rites, such as those of Tsuneo Matsudaira of the Upper House (Shintō-style) and of Kijūrō Shidehara of the Lower House (Buddhist).
The Directive had a dramatic impact on postwar Japanese policy. Although it was only enforced by the GHQ, many of the changes it made became a part of a revised postwar legal interpretation of separation of religion and state. The only notable reversion, besides the Occupation-era approval of state funerals, was a 1965 Supreme Court decision approving of jichinsai and jōtōsai for public buildings.
Shinto remains one of the most popular religions in Japan. Some[who?] want to restore Shinto as a state religion to encourage more traditional Japanese lifestyles. This includes Shinzō Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, who is a proponent of the re-institution of state-Shintoism and the imperial worship. [unreliable source?] In 2013, he visited Yasukuni Shrine, which drew criticism from the United States.[unreliable source?]
- Washington Post
- GHQ of the Allied Powers (1960). Translations and Official Documents: The Shinto Directive, Contemporary Religions in Japan 1 (2), 85-89
- Carl F. Goodman, The Rule of Law in Japan (Fredrick, MD: Kluwer Law International, 2008), 76-78