State Shinto (国家神道)
State Shinto is the name given by historians to the state religion, as well as the religious services, that were established under a policy of the Empire of Japan from the Meiji period (1868-1912) to the end of the Pacific War. It was also called 'Kokutai Shinto' (National Structure Shinto), 'Jinja Shinto' (Shrine Shinto) or simply 'jinja' (shrine).
Broadly speaking, 'State Shinto' was the use of Shinto practices to shore up public unity, while in a narrow sense it was Shinto that was controlled by the Bureau of Shinto Shrines of the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs, as opposed to 'Sect Shinto,' which was regarded as a 'religion.'
The definition of State Shinto also includes shrine administration, which was carried out by the earlier Jingikan (Department of Divinities) and Kyobusho (Ministry of Religion) before the Ministry of Home Affairs took charge of shrines.
The Constitution of the Empire of Japan ostensibly stipulated freedom of religion. However, the government was based on an official interpretation that 'Shinto was not a religion' ('Jinjahishukyoron' in Japanese), 'insisting' that it did not contradict the freedom of religion stipulated in the constitution and making this its official position. The extent to which people were forced by the government to participate in the 'worship of shrines' varied with the times but, from the beginning of the 1930's to the Pacific War, State Shinto was emphasized as an emotional prop for the prosecution of war. The Ministry of Home Affairs' Bureau of Shinto Shrines took charge of the 'kankoku heisha' shrines (a general term for Imperial shrines (kanpeisha) and national shrines (kokuheisha)) and built new kankoku heisha shrines using public money. Local officials offered wands made of hemp and paper streamers to the gods at the festivals of shrines with the rank of sonsha (village shrine) or higher, and it is considered to have been a kind of state religion system.
After World War II, GHQ issued the 'Shinto Directive' (termination of State Shinto), and State Shinto was abolished, but debate over the relationship between the state and Shinto has continued up until today.
(Refer to 'Article 20 of the Constitution of Japan,' 'freedom of religion,' 'the principle of separation of government and religion,' and 'the Tsu "Jichinsai" lawsuit' (where Tsu Municipal Authority was sued for using public funds to hold a purification ceremony at a building site))
Yasukuni-jinja Shrine is considered to be a symbol of State Shinto. Yasukuni-jinja Shrine was founded based on Goryo-shinko (a folk religious belief in avenging spirits) and was at first mainly intended for the repose of souls, but later evolved into a memorial and place to honor the dead. Yasukuni-jinja Shrine was the spiritual core for the unification of the people, and made them accept death in battle by deifying the war dead. Furthermore, criticism against this was prohibited and Yasukuni-jinja Shrine strongly supported the formation of the national polity that deified the Emperor.
On the premise that, based on ancient classics such as "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), the Emperor ruled Japan as part of an unbroken imperial line, and that there were traditional strong connections between the Emperor at the center of the nation and the people, shrines all over the country were organized under the control of the Jingikan (Department of Divinities) and various institutions were established. At the beginning, all shrines in the country were brought under government ownership and all Shinto priests were treated as government officials (shinkan). However, some of the institutions remained undeveloped and only the priests who served at Ise-jingu Shrine became shinkan government officials. The priests of kankoku heisha shrines were assigned official ranks and given ikai (Court ranks), medals for merit and so on. Most of them were treated as junior officials, but some were treated as high-level bureaucrats, received a court rank as a special privilege, and a pension system after retirement was also established.
Since freedom of religion was necessary to build a modern state, it was included in the Constitution of the Empire of Japan promulgated in 1889. Article 28 of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan stipulated that "Japanese subjects shall, within limits not prejudicial to peace and order, and not antagonistic to their duties as subjects, enjoy freedom of religious belief," but the scope of their 'duties as subjects' was a topic of debate at the lawmaking stage, with Hirobumi ITO and Kowashi INOUE, who helped draft the constitution, of the opinion that the veneration of shrines was not included in the duties of subjects. In the Showa period, Tatsukichi MINOBE and the Bureau of Shinto shrines considered that shrine veneration was one of the constitutional duties of subjects, but it was not issued as a formal constitutional interpretation by the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs.
Religious belief was differentiated from paying reverence in shrines or in shrine rituals, but it caused discord among Christians, who were totally monotheistic and repudiated the worship of other religions, or followers of Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism), which insisted on the strict separation of government and religion. Religious education in all public and private schools was prohibited by Imperial Edict 12 in 1889, and State Shinto, which was said to be 'not a religion,' was used as the basis for education that transcended religion. The following year, 1890, the Imperial Rescript on Education was issued, pointing out the basics of national morality and State Shinto integrated religion, politics and education.
Relationship with the post-feudal era
The building that housed the Jingikan, which managed shrines under the Ritsuryo system, was burned down in the Onin War and the Yoshida family and the Shirakawahakuo family continued to manage religious services and shrines with their private houses as Jingikandai. In particular, the Yoshida family, by the enactment of Jisha Hatto (Acts governing temples and shrines) which gave it authorization from the Edo bakufu to manage shrines, assumed all the responsibilities.
Starting with the arrival of the Black Ships, the end of the Edo period encountered diplomatic issues. The Imperial Court and the Edo bakufu offered a prayer in main temples and shrines throughout the country for the expulsion of the foreigners. Also the public, due to a flourishing of the study of Japanese classical literature, called for the revival of the Jingikan to save the nation in a time of crisis. In particular, the bakufu reported the arrival of Perry to the Emperor immediately, and thereafter came to seek Imperial Court's decisions concerning diplomatic issues, which revived the Imperial Court's authority and, together with the Sonno Joi (Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians) and anti-shogunate movements, led to the realization of the restoration of imperial rule.
Thus, after the bakufu transferred power back to the Emperor, the Meiji Restoration began with a declaration of the restoration of imperial rule on December 9, 1867.
Shintoists of the Hirata-ha school, who sympathized with Atsutane HIRATA's way of thinking, and scholars of Japanese classical literature from Tsuwano Domain proposed that the spirit of the Meiji Restoration should be based on the spirit of Emperor Jimmu and the restoration of imperial rule should make modern Japan a country of 'saisei icchi' (unity of religion and state) and the declaration of the restoration of imperial rule contains the phrases "restoration of imperial rule" and "Emperor Jimmu"; the restoration of imperial rule and 'doing everything as in the time of Emperor Jimmu,' which until then had been advocated as ideals, became reality when building an actual country and took on public significance with the slogan of 'renewal of everything.'
In order to realize 'saisei icchi,' which was the basic spirit of the Meiji Government, and to prevent an influx of Christianity which, since the opening up of the country, had created public order problems (such as the Urakami Yoban Kuzure crackdown on Christians), the new government restored the Jingikan, which had been in decline since the collapse of the Ritsuryo system and reorganized Shinto, which had been in a state of chaos since the Medieval Period.
Examples of use of the term 'State Shinto'
The term 'State Shinto' existed before World War II and there are some examples of the term or its synonyms being used in assemblies, Shinto studies, the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Department of War.
In February 1911, House of Representatives member Kanichi ODA said in a speech to the Imperial Diet, "It was clearly understood what was meant by State Shinto...the Bureau of Shinto Shrines treats State Shinto and the Bureau of Religions manages Christianity, Buddhism and the various sects of Shinto, that is, religious Shinto."
In 1924, Genchi KATO (a professor at the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and associate professor of Shinto at Tokyo Imperial University) advocated a theory that divided 'Shinto' into 'religious Shinto' and 'national Shinto' and further divided 'national Shinto' into 'Jinja (or Shrine) Shinto' and 'Kokutai (or national structure) Shinto.'
In 1941, Naoichi MIYAJI (head of the historical research section at the Ministry of Home Affairs' Bureau of Shinto Shrines and a professor at Tokyo Imperial University) used the term 'State Shinto' on several occasions, such as "beginning with religious services, the Taika Reform accomplished the great achievement of reviving the country in accordance with 'kannagara no michi' (the Way of the Gods), and the spirit of State Shinto cultivated at this time will last perpetually."
However, "though it was the 'Way of the Gods,' distinct from 'each Shinto sect' of Sect Shinto, in particular that was called State Shinto, it was customarily known as 'shrines' (jinja) by lawyers and administrators," the term 'State Shinto' being a technical term used by the Bureau of Shinto Shrines, the top brass in the army, Shinto scholars and so on, and not by the general public.
Since the meaning of 'jinja' is currently changing,, it is usually the case that the term 'State Shinto' is used rather than 'jinja.'
Non-religion/religion theories and creeds
There is a theory that states that 'State Shinto' is not a religion and another theory that states that it is. The non-religion theory says that piety is a duty of the people and this duty is one category of morality, therefore piety towards shrines, the army, schools and public offices is not a religion. The religion theory says this is just sophistry.
Masaharu HISHIKI said that some religions in the world place little value on expressing doctrine in words, but using the results of religious studies and cultural anthropology, State Shinto doctrines can be extracted without difficulty, and summarizes them as follows:
- hostile acts by one's own country are always right and participation in them is a noble duty.
Eirei (spirits of the war dead)
- those who die in such battles become gods. Therefore the dead are enshrined.
- make them (the spirits of the war dead) a model and follow them by learning from them.
He pointed out that 'the political purpose of mobilizing people for invasion, which was embedded in the doctrine of honoring, was embellished with the religious tricks of the crusade and Eirei doctrines.'
Some say that the core of State Shinto doctrine is the 'idea of the Emperor Arahitogami (kami who appears in this world in human form)' and the 'idea of an unbroken imperial line.'
Keiichi YANAGAWA said that 'State Shinto had clear doctrines' and offered the following four.
As shown in the Tenjumukyu oracle and the creation myths in "Kojiki" (The Records of Ancient Matters) and "Nihonshoki" (Chronicles of Japan), Japan is a land of the gods and is specially protected by them.
Japan has a mission to save the world. Invading other countries was considered a holy war.
From a moral aspect, the Emperor is a parent and his subjects are children so following the theory that loyalty to your lord is the same as filial piety, loyalty to the Emperor is filial piety.
Construction of shrines for honouring people
A lot of shrines were built to enshrine emperors and the imperial family, such as Kashihara-jingu Shrine, Heian-jingu Shrine and Meiji-jingu Shrine, and to enshrine meritorious people, such as Minatogawa-jinja Shrine and Shijonawate-jinja Shrine (as well as the fifteen 'Kenmu Chuko' shrines that enshrine royalty and military commanders from the Southern Court side who contributed to the Kenmu Restoration).
Yasukuni-jinja Shrine and Gokoku-jinja Shrine
Yasukuni-jinja Shrine was given special benefits, such as tax exemption, a grant of money for religious services, delivery of annual 'donations' and an imperial donation from the imperial family.
Shrine merger policy
In the Edo period, amidst discussion and criticism, Aizu, Okayama, Mito, Choshu and Tsuwano domains abolished or integrated shoshi (small shrines) and shrines to evil deities. In particular, Mito domain's shrine merger policy was called 'Hachiman aratame' (Hachiman-jinja Shrine reformation). This movement destroyed Hachiman-jinja Shrine, which was worshipped by the former governors, the Satake Clan, and replaced it with Kashima-jingu Shrine, which was revered by the Mito Clan.
In 1876, the Kyobusho (Ministry of Religion) changed this policy and started to reorganize the modern Shrine Ranking System and butsu-do (Buddha statue halls).
In December 1906, a 'Shrine Merger order' was issued to integrate or abolish shrines so that there was, in principle, one shrine in each town or village. That same year, the prewar Ministry of Home Affairs carried out a shrine reorganization project that lasted several years. The reorganization of shrines generally refers to the project that was carried out at this time. Shrine mergers were performed significantly in Mie and Wakayama Prefectures; 6500 shrines in Mie Prefecture decreased by at least 6/7 and 3700 shrines in Wakayama Prefecture decreased by at least 5/6. 40,000 shrines throughout the country were destroyed in the first three years. The project was almost finished by about 1913, with the number of shrines greatly reduced from 190,000 to 120,000.
The purpose of the project was to restore the sanctity of shrines as national religious services by abolishing or integrating ruined shoshi and shrines to evil deities. It also had the effect of streamlining local administration.
On the other hand, as it greatly affected belief in local guardian gods, many objections were raised. The folklorist and naturalist, Kumagusu MINAKATA, carried on a campaign against it for ten years in works such as "Nippon oyobi Nipponjin" (Japan and The Japanese).
The loss of vast Chinju-no-Mori sacred forests surrounding shrines is said to have been one of its bad effects. Some say that one of the aims of this destruction was to tap a new source of revenue by selling trees in the woods owned by shrines.
Construction of shrines in overseas territories
Shrines were built in Taiwan, Korea, the South Sea Islands and other territories. They were originally built by Japanese living in the territories for themselves.
Many Shintoists insisted that local gods should be revered when building shrines in the territories, but the government did not agree and, like the western powers that preached Christianity in their colonies to erase indigenous beliefs, enshrined Emperor Meiji and Amaterasu Omikami.
This indicates that the Meiji government was, even among developed countries, a rare secular government, which succeeded in subordinating religious groups, bringing them completely under control of the nation and eliminating their intentions from the policy making process, but it is also a basis of the opinion that this period was, paradoxically, a 'dark age of Shinto.'
Major shrines built in overseas territories include Chosen-jingu Shrine, Taiwan-jinja Shrine, Nanyo-jinja Shrine, Kanto-jingu Shrine, and Karafuto-jinja Shrine (Karafuto, the Japanese name for Sakhalin, was later incorporated into the mainland in 1943). Refer to the shrines in Taiwan for details on Taiwan.
Folk beliefs prohibition policy
In the early Meiji period, possession by divine spirits and acts to obtain oracles from that possession, belief in sex gods and so on were rejected as vulgar or superstitious and many folk customs were prohibited. This meant that, due to intolerant interpretation, religious beliefs such as those of Izumo Shinto went into decline. Enshrined deities were changed from gods worshipped locally since old times to gods that connected with the imperial genealogies of the "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki." Thus, if a local tradition ceased, ancient deities of the local shrines often became unknown.
Divinity of Emperors and 'Arahitogami'
Various aspects of the Emperor's divinity had been discussed from ancient times but, influenced by the pre-Meiji Sonno Joi and anti-Shogunate movements and based on descriptions in the "Kojiki" and "Nihonshoki," the Emperor began to be described as 'Arahitogami.'
During the process of realizing 'saisei icchi' as conceived by scholars of ancient Japanese literature and culture from the Tsuwano school, such as Bisei FUKUBA, the Emperor was positioned as 'a kind of religious founder in charge of Shinto.'
The movement to overthrow the Shogunate arose because the system of coexistence between the bakufu and the Imperial Court was not appropriate for creating Japan as a modern nation, and it agreed with the new Meiji government's intentions to build a powerful monarchy centered around the Emperor, therefore giving rise to the idea of the Emperor, coming from an unbroken imperial line, being the head of both Shinto and the state.
After the system of senkyoshi (Shinto missionaries), which had failed to teach the specifics to the people, was abolished, the 'sanjo no kyosoku' (Three Teachings) was established for the public's education, which was carried out by the Ministry of Religion and involved Shinto, Buddhism and Confucianism.
Its contents were 'piety and patriotism should be realized,' 'the ways of heaven, earth and man should be made clear,' and 'the Emperor should be respected and the intention of the Imperial court should be observed.'
Many commentaries on 'sanjo no kyosoku,' such as "Sansoku-oshie no chikamichi" (Shortcut to Teachings, 1873) written by Robun KANAGAKI, were published.
Amongst these, there are several instances of 'descendents of the gods are called Arahitogami.'
Even after the abolition of the Ministry of Religion, this ideological development continued, with Genchi KATO, who lectured in philosophy of religion at Tokyo University, said that the Emperor 'was an arahitogami and therefore a god himself, not a child of a god, which was a being one level lower than the god' in "Waga Kokutai no Hongi" (Meaning of Our National Polity) in 1912. In 'Kodo gaisetsu' (Overview of the Imperial Way) which appeared in 'Kokkagakkai-zasshi' Volume 27, Number 1, (1913), Shinkichi UESUGI, a constitutional scholar and professor at Tokyo University, said that 'conceptually, only the Emperor ought to be called a god' and this was used as orthodox constitutional theory by the army in the early Showa period. In "Saishu Sensoron, Sensoshi Taikan" (On the Final War and a General Outline History of War) (which was based on the "lecture outline" in Changchun, China in July, 1929), Lieutenant General Kanji ISHIWARA went as far as to say that when human beings believe in arahitogami from the bottom of their hearts, then the true value of a civilization of the righteous monarch will be seen. The final battle, that is, the decisive war between righteous monarchy and military rule, is the final battle between those who worship the Emperor and those who do not; specifically, it will be the most important incident in the history of mankind, determining whether the Emperor will be the Emperor of the world or whether Western presidents will lead the world" and with the rise of militarism after the Showa Restoration movement, the military appropriated the authority of the Emperor to intervene in politics. The Manchurian Incident was provoked based on Ishiwara's final battle theory.
General Headquarters (GHQ) regarded Shinto as dangerous due to ideas such as Shinkoku (land of the gods), arahitogami and holy war, and it is considered that the Emperor's Humanity declaration was made against such a background.
Argument over enshrined deities of the Shinto Jimukyoku (Office of Shinto Affairs)
Arguments from 1880 to 1881
A raging debate arose in Shinto circles over the deities of the Shinto Jimukyoku's shrine in Hibiya, Tokyo. Priests of the 'Ise-ha school,' including the chief priest of Ise-jingu Shrine, Yoritsune TANAKA, played a central role in choosing the four gods, the Zokasanshin, or Three Gods of Creation (Ame no Minakanushi no Kami, Takamimusubi no kami, Kamimusubi no kami) and Amaterasu Omikami, enshrined at the Shinto Jimukyoku's shrine. However, the 'Izumo-ha' school centered on Takatomi SENGE advocated 'Yuken ichinyo' and insisted that Okuni nushi no okami should be added, making five deities.
Since many priests of the Ise-ha school supported the Izumo-ha school, some leaders of the Ise-ha school had misgivings about the situation and solved the problem with an imperial decision by Emperor Meiji (it was decided to practice 'yohaiden', or worship from afar, at the Three Palace Shrines, which was in reality a defeat for the Izumo-ha school). It is said that the government considered it impossible to create a system of common creeds for Shinto or to control people directly with creeds of the ancient Shinto.
Argument over deities of Chosen-jingu Shrine
In 1919, the government decided that Emperor Meiji and Amaterasu Omikami should be the enshrined deities when building Chosen-jingu Shrine in Keijo (Japan's colonial name for Seoul). However, the third head priest, Momoki KAMO, insisted that 'Dangun', the 'ancestor of the Korean people' should also be enshrined.
End of State Shinto
On August 15, 1945, the situation around Shinto changed drastically after the defeat of the Pacific War. General Headquarters (GHQ) notified the Japanese government that all restrictions on political, social and religious freedoms would be removed in October of the same year. On December 15, GHQ also notified of the separation of shrines from the state in the form of a memorandum, known as the Shinto Directive, which 'abolished the guarantee, support, maintenance, supervision and promulgation of State Shinto and Jinja Shinto,' putting an end to the period of State Shinto.
On February 2, 1946, the Jingiin (Institute of Divinities) was dissolved, the Koten Kokyusho (Institute for Research of the Imperial Classics), Dainihon-jingikai (Shinto Association of Great Japan) and Jingu-hosaikai (Shrine Reverence Society) were merged into the Jinja-Honcho (The Association of Shinto Shrines) on February 3, and Jinja Shinto restarted as a religious entity.
Timeline of State Shinto
1868 - Restoration of Imperial Rule
1868 - Shingi jimuka (Shinto Section) established. Soon renamed Jingi Jimukyoku (Shinto Worship Bureau).
1868 - Edict on the Separation of Shinto and Buddhism issued. In the same year, Jingi Jimukyoku renamed Jingikan (Department of Divinities) in accordance with the ancient Ritsuryo system. System of saisei icchi (unity of church and state, theocracy) restored and Shinto priests were affiliated to the Jingikan.
1869 - Tokyo Shokonsha Shrine (later Yasukuni-jinja Shrine) and Kusunoki-sha Shrine (later Minatogawa-jinja Shrine) established. Emperor Meiji gave Tokyo Shokonsha Shrine an estate worth 5000 koku (nominally 10,000 koku) as 'eitai saishiryo' (permanent grant of money for funeral expenses) which became a source of annual income of the shrine. Senkyoshi (Shinto Missionaries) were established the same year. Tencho setsu (birthday of the reigning emperor) and Jimmu Tenno Sai (Emperor Jimmu Festival) were set and yohai-shiki (services of worshipping from afar) were performed nationwide.
1870 - Imperial Edict on the Establishment of Shinto issued.
1871 - system of priests serving on a heredity basis abolished, including at Ise-jingu Shrine, and Jingikan and local governments given power to appoint and dismiss priests.
In accordance with 'Rules on shrine ranks and priests of official shrines or lower' (edict of Daijokan [The Grand Council of State], May 14, 1871), the ranks of 'kankoku heisha,' 'fuhanken-sha' (prefectural shrines other than those in Kyoto and Osaka), and 'gosha' (municipal shrines) were specified, with Ise-jingu Shrine at the top, the head of the 'kankoku heisha' was selected from among the peerage and warrior class, the position of head of the 'kokuheisha' (shrines under the control of provincial governors) was filled by the secretary fu-han-ken (prefectures and domains), and all hereditary Shinto priests were 'newly appointed.'
1871 - shrines and priests nationwide graded in accordance with 'gosha precepts' (Daijokan, July 4, 1871). One gosha was established in each family register district and other ujigami (guardian gods or spirits of a particular place) were affiliated with the gosha as village shrines.
1871 - decision to distribute Jingu taima (Shrine amulets) forcibly to 7,000,000 households throughout the country through chihokan (local officials) at a price of 2 sen per piece; carried out from the following year. From 1878, people could decide whether to accept amulets, but trouble often occurred with local officials.
1872 - amount of stipend for priests of official shrines and lower-ranked shrines established (February 25, 1872, Daijokan, No. 58; 'Specifying the amount of stipend for priests').
1872 - Jingisho abolished and Kyobusho (Ministry of Religion) established. The Daikyoin (Great Teaching Institute) established. Senkyoshi abolished and kyodoshoku (evangelist) system formulated to establish a senkyo (missionary) framework. Sanjo no kyosoku,' which ordered 'respect' for the Emperor, was used as a basis of teaching of people. Requests for licenses to publish books on creeds were required to be submitted to the Kyobusho.
1873 - Daikyoin shrine burned down due to arson. The object of worship temporarily moved to Shiba-toshogu Shrine.
1873 - monthly salaries of priests of 'fukensha' (Prefectural shrines) abolished.
1873 - government exempted land owned by shokonjo (shrines established to enshrine soldiers who died for the nation) nationwide from taxation and specified amount of national budget to be used for religious service costs and repair costs of memorials.
1875 - the four Buddhist Shinshu sects seceded Daikyoin due to conflict with Shinto camp and necessity of separation of government and religion. Shinto camp established Shinto Jimukyoku (Office of Shinto Affairs).
1875 - Daijokan issued circular notice to discontinue joint propagation of Shintoism and Buddhism. Daijokan established rules for ritual procedure in jingu (shrines dedicated to ancestors of the imperial family) or shrines with lower ranks.
1876 - government abolished Yasukuni-jinja Shrine's estate, and instead 'donated' cash of 7550 yen a year.
1877 - priests of jingu shrines and kankoku heisha were abolished and official ranks and monthly salaries of chief priests and lower-ranking priests were specified.
1879 - Tokyo Shokonsha Shrine renamed Yasukuni-jinja Shrine and put under control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Department of War and the Ministry of the Navy.
1880-1881 - fierce controversy over enshrined deities arose in Shinto circles when moving enshrined deities from Shiba-toshogu Shrine to the Shinto Jimukyoku's shrine. The controversy was ended by a ruling of Emperor Meiji. Refer to the Incidents of State Shinto described later.
1882 - dual role of kankoku heisha priests as kyodoshoku (evangelists) abolished. The Ministry of Home Affairs stipulated that priests of jingu and kankoku heisha shrines must not participate in funeral services. Shrines mainly performed Shinto services and rituals and religious communities with their own creeds became independent as Sect Shinto. Shinto priests campaigned to separate priests from evangelists completely and to restore the Jingikan (refer to year 1896).
1887 - supply of 'preservation money' to kankoku heisha shrines until 1902 stipulated, expenses and government expenses for upkeep abolished. The supply of 'preservation money' was later extended to 1917.
1888 - priests of kankoku heisha shrines were abolished and positions of 'guji' (chief priest), negi (senior priest) and sakan (shrine official) were established. Guji were treated as officials of sonin rank, and negi and sakan as junior officials.
1889 - Constitution of the Empire of Japan promulgated. As a modern nation, freedom of religion (although in the "range specified by the law") was stipulated in its articles. The scope of duties of shrine worship became the subject of discussion.
1890 - Imperial Rescript on Education issued. Since Kanzo UCHIMURA rejected the worship specified in the Imperial Rescript on Education (known as the Lese Majesty Incident), a directive to follow the Imperial Rescript on Education was also issued. Children and students were forced to recite the Imperial Rescript on Education during the Showa period.
1892 - raging debate arose over Kunitake KUME's treatise, 'Shinto is an outmoded remnant of heaven worship' (known as the Kunitake KUME incident). Kunitake KUME was dismissed as a professor at Tokyo Imperial University and the volumes of 'Shigaku zasshi' (Journal of Historical Studies) and 'Shikai' which carried his treatises were suppressed by the Minister of Home Affairs, Yajiro SHINAGAWA.
1893 - Yasutsugu SHIGENO, who questioned the credibility and existence of retainers of the Southern Dynasty who appeared in "Taiheiki" (a 14th century historical epic), dismissed from his post as a member of the history editing committee of Tokyo Imperial University.
1893 - basic procedures of school events, such as 'bowing deeply to an imperial portrait,' 'celebrating the Emperor and Empress with cries of 'banzai,' 'respectful reading of the Imperial Rescript on Education,' and 'moral discourses by school principals.'
1894-1895 - Sino-Japanese War. Many monuments to soldiers killed in battle were built after the war and the relationship between the state and shrines deepened.
1896 - 'Jingikan restoration resolution' passed through both the Houses of Parliament the first time, but was abandoned when revision of the unequal treaties took precedence.
1899 - unequal treaties revised, and the need to take into account western powers decreased.
1899 - Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess), Sanshu no Jingi (Three Imperial Regalia), and tensonkorin (the descent to earth of the grandson of the sun goddess) added to history textbooks.
1900 - Ministry of Home Affairs' Bureau of Shrines and Temples split into Bureau of Shrines and Bureau of Religions. The Bureau of Shrines was regarded as the highest bureau, above the Bureau of Regions and Police Bureau. Under the general policy on religion, Sect Shinto, such as the Izumo Oyashiro-kyo and Kurozumikyo sects, was placed under the Bureau of Religions.
(In 1913, the Bureau of Religions was transferred to the Ministry of Education and its position lowered.)
1900 - Taiwan-jingu Shrine (a kanpei-taisha, or major Imperial shrine) built in Taipei, Taiwan, which was then a Japanese colony. After that, five kankoku heisha shrines, nine prefectural shrines and 81 others were built in Taiwan.
1901 - 105 Kansai Shokonsha shrines established and maintained with national expenditure.
1906 - Ministry of Home Affairs' Bureau of Shinto Shrines started to merge shrines, abolishing 70,000 of about 200,000 shrines so that, until 1914, there was one shrine in each village.
1913 - Ministry of Home Affairs' Bureau of Shinto Shrines transferred to Ministry of Education. Kodo gaisetsu' (Overview of the Imperial Way), written by Shinkichi UESUGI, a constitutional scholar and professor at Tokyo University, was published and used as an orthodox constitutional theory by the army in the early Showa period.
1919 - Chosen-jingu Shrine (a kanpei-taisha) was built in Korea, which was then a Japanese colony. Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess) and Emperor Meiji were enshrined as deities. Nine Kanpei-taisha and 60 others were built.
Circa 1935 - slogans, such as hakkoichiu (eight corners of the world under one roof), created.
1937 - Education Ministry's Bureau of Thought Control issued 'underlying principle of national polity.'
Arahitogami was used as an official term in the government's publications, and the Emperor's divinity began to be mentioned. The 'underlying principle of national polity' was required teaching material.
1939 - Imperial Japanese Army established military priest system, assigning three priests to each division, two to quartermaster offices and one to independent brigades
1940 - commemorative ceremony for the 2,600th anniversary of the founding of Japan. Shrines all over the country held special festivals. Urayasu no Mai Dance was created. The Jingiin (Institute of Divinities) was established.
1945 - shrines including Meiji-jingu Shrine, Atsuta-jingu Shrine, Minatogawa-jinja Shrine burned down in US air raid.
1945 - end of World War II.
1945 - all contact points between shrines and administrative agencies abolished by the Shinto Directive (the government's guarantee, support, maintenance, supervision and promulgation of State Shinto and Jinja Shinto to be abolished).
1946 - Emperor Showa issued humanity declaration. This was interpreted as a 'denial of the divinity' of the Emperor.
1946 - all laws and ordinances associated with shrines, such as Jingiinkansei (Institute of Divinities), abolished. The Imperial Families' Act was abolished and court rituals became private acts of the Emperor.
1953 - Ise-jingu Shrine's Shikinen Sengu (reconstruction) Ceremony, suspended due to the defeat in war, was performed. The leaders of the Jinja-Honcho took this occasion to make public requests to restore State Shinto.
1957 - groups such as Jinja-Honcho, Seicho-No-Ie, Shuyo-dan, joined forces to form 'Kigensetsu-hoshuku-kai,' launching a campaign to restore Kigensetsu (National Foundation Day), which commemorated the ascension to the throne of the first emperor, Jimmu).
1959 - the government regarded the Shinto ceremony of 'Kashikodokoro-omae-no-gi' as one of the emperor's constitutional functions when the crown prince married.
1967 - Kigensetsu revived as a national holiday under the name 'National Foundation Day.'
A movement for the renationalization of Yasukuni-jinja Shrine gained momentum.
1969 - 'Yasukuni-jinja Shrine Bill' for nationalization of Yasukuni-jinja Shrine, excepting its religious elements, presented in a Diet session, but abandoned because of incomplete deliberations.
1974 - Liberal Democratic Party independently pushed through Yasukuni-jinja Shrine Bill in a House of Representatives plenary session (rejected in the House of Councilors).
1976 - 'Yasukuni-jinja Kokkagoji Kantetsu Kokuminkyogikai' (National Convention for Realizing State Support for Yasukuni-Jinja Shrine) renamed 'Eirei ni kotaeru kai' (Society for Honoring the Glorious War Dead).
1978 - Yasukuni-jinja Shrine enshrined 14 class-A war criminals.
1986 - Prime Minister Yasuhiro NAKASONE refrained from visiting Yasukuni-jinja Shrine, saying 'enshrining class-A war criminals provokes our neighbors.'
1990 - a Daijo-sai festival was held to celebrate the succession of the new emperor.