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Unformatted text preview: house of the Japanese Diet.
Sòka Gakkai is in many ways a model for realization of the expectations that have been aroused by the new religions in postwar Japan.
Although intellectuals may shun it and some people may denounce it as
neofascist, Sòka Gakkai is one of the greatest mass movements in Japanese history. Along with its vast following, it possesses enormous material opulence, observable in its sumptuous center at the foot of Mount
Fuji, which drew more than two million people to its opening in 1958.
The attractions of Sòka Gakkai are many. For one thing, it offers people
the opportunity to belong to a great and flourishing movement, an opportunity that appealed with particular force to the Japanese in the wake of
the widespread social disorientation caused by defeat in war. Sòka
Gakkai makes extravagant claims for its power to induce healing through
faith, and even boasts that it can prevent illness. Not content with the
slogan “Join us and you won’t become sick,” the society has gone so far
as to threaten, “If you don’t join us, you will be sure to get sick.”45
If the resurgence of the new religions since the war has directed additional attention to the extraordinary group instincts and group orientation of the Japanese, there has also been much consideration given during
the same period to the matter of individualism in a Japan liberated from
the anti-individualistic fetters of the kokutai ideology. This is probably
most conspicuous in the writings of such authors as Mishima Yukio, Abe 338 Culture in the Present Age Kòbò, and Òe Kenzaburò (1935– ), who have subjected the individual
to the most intense psychological scrutiny, observing his unlimited potentiality for erratic, perverse, and bizarre behavior and his often desperate
struggle against the dictates of social conformity.
Mishima, who committed suicide by disembowelment in 1970 at the
age of forty-five, was one of the most fascinating individuals—at least to
foreigners—in recent Japanese history.46 A small and sickly youth of upper
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.
- Spring '13