Religion in Modern Asia Newsletter

INOUE Nobutaka

Personal Data

Research Field: new religion
Office: Kokugakuin Univ.
Office Address: 4-10-28, Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150
Country: Japan


(May 1, 1994)

INOUE Nobutaka decided to major in Religious Studies after entering the undergraduate course at the University of Tokyo. While in high school, he had planned to study philosophy, but he was disappointed by the university classes he experienced and changed his major to Religious Studies when a university junior.

The title of INOUE's graduation thesis was "Arguments Regarding Religious Freedom in the Early Meiji Period." In the course of his graduate school training, he studied the thought of HIRATA Atsutane, one of the best known Kokugakusha (proponent of Japanese "National Learning"), who lived in the late Edo period. It was from around that time that INOUE's interests shifted from religious theory and psychology to the understanding of modern religious movements.

Experience gained from religious surveys in the Amami Islands in southern Japan suggested to INOUE the importance of new religious movements in modern Japanese society. He decided to pay more attention to such new movements by conducting religious surveys of Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii and California during 1977, 1979, and 1981.

In 1982, INOUE left his post in the Faculty of Literature of the University of Tokyo to take a position in the Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics at Kokugakuin University. This position gave him new opportunities to collect data regarding new religious movements, and led to his serving as co-editor of the "Encyclopedia of New Religions" (Shinsyukyo jiten. Kobundo, 1990), a definitive work providing information on more than three hundred new Japanese religious groups and more than four-hundred religious leaders.

After publication of the "Encyclopedia," INOUE began to feel the strong need for comparison of new religious groups in Japan with those found elsewhere, particularly in the U.S.A. and East Asia. This felt need arose from his understanding of the deep connection between the establishment of new religious and the modernization process (industrialization, urbanization), and other social changes. It was, in part, that consciousness also which led him to the desire to promote enhanced cooperative research efforts among Asian scholars.

Kokugakuin University's Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics includes more than thirty staff members, each of which is responsible for one or more projects. INOUE is currently leading four projects, including "Research on Religious Education in Modern Japan," "Exchange of Academic Information within Asia," "English Translation of Recent Japanese Articles on Religion," and "Editing of an Encyclopedia of Shinto Personalities."

As part of the Religious Education project, INOUE plans to collect data regarding how religious education is treated legally in other countries. He notes that if other members of this Newsletter have an opportunity to come to Japan, he would like to exchange data with them regarding new religious movements and religious education in the respective countries.

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Last updated: 2001/11/28 14:37:33

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