Ein Shinto-Schrein, die Verfassung und der Friede
Symposium on prayer for the Emperor
Japan Anglican Church
The prayer book of the Nippon Seikôkai (Anglican Episcopal Church of Japan) containing the phrase "we pray for the Emperor" has generated discussion within the Seikôkai. On March 22 at the Tokyo Diocesan Center (Kaikan) a symposium on prayer for the emperor was held with the cooperative support of the Committee Concerned With Buraku Issues, the Central Committee for Student Activities, and the Tokyo Diocesan Social Concerns Committee.
The issue of prayer for the emperor was discussed from four perspectives. One perspective dealt with issues related to prayer for the emperor and how that prayer relates to the Yasukuni Shinto Shrine issue. Another point of view dealt with prayer for the emperor and past relations with the church in Korea.
The meaning of prayer for the emperor and Buraku discrimination problems in Japan and how the same issue is viewed from Okinawa were discussed, relating prayer for the emperor and two discriminated-against groups in Japan.
In a society where a serious movement toward the right is taking place, it was pointed out that the Tokyo Diocese opposed the official visits by government officials for worship at the Yasukuni Shrine, but it was recognized that some members of the Seikôkai felt that the church should not become involved in politics.
As an example of how Shinto is linked to discrimination the pressure for conformity arising from the manifestation of the emperor system in the local-level Shinto shrine was cited. In the city of Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture, a person withheld from the local Community Association (Chônaikai) dues that portion of the payment that would go to support the local Shinto shrine. After this refusal to contribute to the Shinto shrine, the Community Association stopped providing this person with its newsletter- and information-sharing ceased.
On the other side, it was said in discussion that to remove prayer for the emperor from the prayer book could mean that the issue of the influence of the emperor system might go unnoticed.
The seminar participants proposed that four points be adopted in relation to the emperor system.
1. Study of the structure of control in Japanese society should be undertaken from the point of view of the oppressed.
2. Study should be made of discrimination arising out of the emperor system.
3. The above two items should be evaluated as related to the Christian faith.
4. The "prayer for the Emperor" phrase in the prayer book should be used as a means of maintaining concern for the issue.
The issue of church/state relations as reflected in the prayer book will continue to be a subject for discussion.
(From "The Christ Weekly" 4/9; Japan Christian Activity News 596, April 20, 1983)