Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices
カテゴリー2: Modern and Contemporary
Shintō Shirei (The Shinto Directive)
A directive issued to the Japanese government by GHQ on December 15, 1945, the full title of which was "Regarding the abolition of government protection, support, supervision and proliferation of State Shintō or Shrine Shintō." It was informed by the Potsdam Declaration and the "U.S. Initial Post-Surrender Policy for Japan" promulgated in September 1945; its purport was to abolish State Shintō (Kokka Shintō), and so secure freedom of religion and eliminate militarism and ultra-nationalism. This directive went beyond systematically severing links between the state and Shrine Shintō. It ordered the elimination of all Shintō rites, practices, myths, legends, philosophy, and material symbols from institutions of the state. As a result, the thoroughgoing separation of Shrine Shintō from the state extended to all religions, and this directive made explicit the intent to effect a complete separation of religion and the state. This was a policy conspicuously different from, and altogether more rigorous than, the separation of religion and state (which in practice referred to the separation of church and state) that was generally adhered to in western nations.
The application of the Shintō Directive relied upon a stream of instructions from the government covering a wide range of prohibitions: visits to religious institutions by pupils at state schools and children of pre-school age; fundraising for shrines by local town committees; the performance of groundbreaking (jichinsai) and roof-raising rites (jōtōsai) for public buildings; conducting funerals and rites of propitiation for the war dead by the state and public bodies; and the removal and/or erection of commemorative sites to the war dead. A distinctive feature of this directive was that it was exceptionally lenient towards imperial court rites. However, the rigid application of the Shintō Directive, which ignored the realities of Japanese social life, led to trouble and confusion everywhere. GHQ was bombarded with complaints and grievances from local people. And in 1949, halfway through the Occupation, the Shintō Directive came to be applied with greater discretion. Typical of this change was the approval granted to state funerals which entailed religious rites, as exemplified by the funerals of Matsudaira Tsuneo of the Upper House (Shintō-style) and of Shidehara Kijūrō of the Lower House (Buddhist). This discretionary application of the Shintō Directive needs to be born in mind when interpreting the Constitutional provision for the separation of state and religion.
— Ōhara Yasuo

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