The History of Religious Freedom and Separation of Religion from State Under the Constitution of Japan
Tuesday, February 12, 2019 - 6:00pm

The PSU Center for Japanese Studies Presents

The Postwar Constitution of Japan Lecture Series

We, the Japanese people, acting through our duly elected representatives in the National Diet, determined that we shall secure for ourselves and our posterity the fruits of peaceful cooperation with all nations and the blessings of liberty throughout this land....

February 12, 2019 |  6pm 
Smith Student Union, room 327/8

The History of Religious Freedom and Separation of 
Religion from State Under the Constitution of Japan

Professor Helen Hardacre, Harvard University

This talk examines the history of Article 20 of the constitution of Japan, which guarantees both religious freedom and separation of religion from state. The majority of cases involving Article 20 have tested the limits of the clause on separation of religion from state with respect to Shinto, often referring at the same time to Article 89, which prohibits the use of public funds for religious observances or religious education. The Supreme Court’s verdict in a case involving the use of public funds for a Shinto grounds-breaking ceremony (jichinsai) during construction of a city gymnasium produced an important standard that has been invoked many times in subsequent cases of this kind. The result of these verdicts, the most recent one coming in 2014, has been to define a variety of Shinto ceremonies as “traditional” rather than “religious,” and hence as falling outside the realm of activity prohibited by Article 20.

Helen Hardacre is the Reischauer Institute Professor of Japanese Religions and Society at Harvard 
University. Her current research centers on the issue of constitutional revision and its effect on religious groups. Hardacre was awarded a J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003, elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2014, and awarded the Order of the Rising Sun 3rd Class Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon from the Government of Japan in 2018. Hardacre’s most recent monograph is Shinto: A History (Oxford, 2016), a comprehensive study of Shinto from ancient Japan to the present.

All programs sponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies are funded by donations from the local community, as well as from grants.

With Support from the United States-Japan Foundation