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Religion Japan

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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 8, 1991 | ALAN C. MILLER and MYRON LEVIN, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
The Japanese Buddhist organization affiliated with Soka University, whose expansion plans have generated intense public debate in Los Angeles, is also embroiled in controversy in Japan, where the powerful group has been wracked by a series of scandals. The organization, Soka Gakkai, recently paid $4.5 million in back taxes in Japan in a bizarre tax evasion case involving unreported income from the sale of grave sites to its members.
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NEWS
April 3, 1997 | SONNI EFRON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In a landmark decision greeted with both joy and rage, Japan's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the use of taxpayers' money for ritual offerings at religious shrines is unconstitutional. The decision was based on a case involving the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, an oasis under a canopy of cherry trees in downtown Tokyo dedicated to the worship of the "divine spirits" of about 2.5 million Japanese who have died fighting for their country since 1869.
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NEWS
November 23, 1990 | KARL SCHOENBERGER, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Wearing the white silk robes of a high Shinto priest, Japan's Emperor Akihito communed Thursday night with his mythical ancestor, the Sun Goddess, in a torchlight enthronement ritual that was clouded by controversy over the constitutional separation of religion and state. The government-funded religious ceremony climaxed Akihito's elaborate rite of passage into emperorhood, which began nearly two years ago with the death of his father, Hirohito.
NEWS
November 6, 1996 | TERESA WATANABE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In the shadow of majestic Mt. Fuji, the tallest, most revered peak in Japan, Shinto priest Yasuhiko Kanemori ponders the plethora of religious groups that have sprouted around the mountain's base like mushrooms. It was bad enough that the fiery Nichiren Buddhist sect and its Soka Gakkai lay followers became embroiled in a veritable religious war here, spewing charges and countercharges of harassment, blasphemy and violence.
NEWS
March 15, 1996 | TERESA WATANABE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
He is, by some accounts, the most powerful man in Japan--and certainly one of the most enigmatic: Daisaku Ikeda, leader of the nation's largest religious organization, has been condemned and praised as a devil and an angel, a Hitler and a Gandhi, a despot and a democrat. He is a grasping power-monger aiming for political control by rallying the 8 million families of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization, critics say.
NEWS
October 16, 1995 | TERESA WATANABE and HILARY E. MacGREGOR, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
In the monstrous worship hall of the Rissho Kosei Kai, busloads of believers alight to behold wiggling cheerleaders in purple sequins, band members pounding out the bouncy strains of "Anchors Aweigh" and a gleaming gold Buddha with bright blue curls. On a street corner here in Japan's capital, two women approach strangers and offer to cure their health problems with divine energy emanating from their open palms in a ministry called the Assn. to Make Clear the Love of God.
NEWS
June 2, 1988 | KARL SCHOENBERGER, Times Staff Writer
In a major setback for advocates of stronger separation of religion and state in Japan, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday against a Christian woman who sued the government for violating her rights by enshrining her husband in a Shinto ceremony after he died on military duty. The high court overturned two lower-court rulings that the "personal religious rights" of the widow, Yasuko Nakaya, 54, had been violated by Self-Defense Forces officials who helped in the enshrinement over her objections.
NEWS
December 9, 1995 | HILARY E. MacGREGOR, TIMES STAFF WRITER
After a heated debate that pitted religious leaders against political kingmakers, the upper house of the Japanese parliament on Friday passed a government-proposed bill to tighten control over religious groups. Japan's ruling coalition initiated the legislation to revise the 1951 Religious Corporations Law after a deadly nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway system last March, allegedly by the Aum Supreme Truth religious cult.
NEWS
February 23, 1989 | KARL SCHOENBERGER, Times Staff Writer
A 50-year-old grudge against Emperor Hirohito brought the Rev. Young Chang Park to Tokyo this week, as royalty and heads of state and government from around the world gathered to honor the late Japanese monarch in funeral ceremonies Friday.
NEWS
November 6, 1996 | TERESA WATANABE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In the shadow of majestic Mt. Fuji, the tallest, most revered peak in Japan, Shinto priest Yasuhiko Kanemori ponders the plethora of religious groups that have sprouted around the mountain's base like mushrooms. It was bad enough that the fiery Nichiren Buddhist sect and its Soka Gakkai lay followers became embroiled in a veritable religious war here, spewing charges and countercharges of harassment, blasphemy and violence.
NEWS
March 15, 1996 | TERESA WATANABE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
He is, by some accounts, the most powerful man in Japan--and certainly one of the most enigmatic: Daisaku Ikeda, leader of the nation's largest religious organization, has been condemned and praised as a devil and an angel, a Hitler and a Gandhi, a despot and a democrat. He is a grasping power-monger aiming for political control by rallying the 8 million families of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist organization, critics say.
NEWS
December 9, 1995 | HILARY E. MacGREGOR, TIMES STAFF WRITER
After a heated debate that pitted religious leaders against political kingmakers, the upper house of the Japanese parliament on Friday passed a government-proposed bill to tighten control over religious groups. Japan's ruling coalition initiated the legislation to revise the 1951 Religious Corporations Law after a deadly nerve-gas attack on the Tokyo subway system last March, allegedly by the Aum Supreme Truth religious cult.
NEWS
October 16, 1995 | TERESA WATANABE and HILARY E. MacGREGOR, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
In the monstrous worship hall of the Rissho Kosei Kai, busloads of believers alight to behold wiggling cheerleaders in purple sequins, band members pounding out the bouncy strains of "Anchors Aweigh" and a gleaming gold Buddha with bright blue curls. On a street corner here in Japan's capital, two women approach strangers and offer to cure their health problems with divine energy emanating from their open palms in a ministry called the Assn. to Make Clear the Love of God.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 13, 1995 | From Religion News Service
Yuko Higuchi recently quit her high-powered job at an international investment company to work for Kofuku-no-Kagaku, a fast-growing Japanese religion also known as the Institute for Research in Human Happiness. "I was interested in some sort of movement to improve the world," the 35-year-old Higuchi said, "but couldn't find a suitable one." In her view, Buddhism and Shinto--Japan's oldest religions--are spiritually exhausted. "Buddhist temples . . . are for sightseeing.
NEWS
March 26, 1995 | MAGGIE FARLEY, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
The head of Science of Happiness, Ryuho Okawa, says he is Buddha reborn, his wife was Florence Nightingale, and a Golden Age will begin in 2020. Of his "revelations," at least one seems to echo the fears of many Japanese these days: Last year, Okawa warned that Aum Supreme Truth--the cult that many suspect killed 10 people last week by releasing poison gas in a Tokyo subway--was trying to destroy the nation.
NEWS
May 21, 1993 | TERESA WATANABE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In this ancient capital and cradle of Japan's religious heritage, the Buddhist priest faithfully chants his sutras. He honors the spirits of ancestors and presides over funerals. He maintains the temple grounds and attends to his flock's spiritual needs, just as every priest did before him in the Daiouji Temple's 300-year history. But Yasuo Sakakibara has a confession to make. "I'm much more comfortable talking about economics than Buddhism," he says.
NEWS
April 3, 1997 | SONNI EFRON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In a landmark decision greeted with both joy and rage, Japan's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the use of taxpayers' money for ritual offerings at religious shrines is unconstitutional. The decision was based on a case involving the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, an oasis under a canopy of cherry trees in downtown Tokyo dedicated to the worship of the "divine spirits" of about 2.5 million Japanese who have died fighting for their country since 1869.
NEWS
January 9, 1989 | KARL SCHOENBERGER, Times Staff Writer
With the passing of Emperor Hirohito, whose 62-year reign bridged two distinct eras in Japanese history, the country now faces an imperial paradox that has lain dormant beneath the surface of its postwar democracy. Political leaders have pledged to uphold a 1945 American-drafted constitution that strictly separates the functions of state and religion.
NEWS
March 9, 1993 | SAM JAMESON, TIMES STAFF WRITER
Buried in antiquity, the origins of Tagata Shrine and its annual festival remain misty. But the reason for the festival's ever-growing popularity is clear. Indeed, it's so obvious that it's an embarrassment to much of Japan today. The Japan Travel Bureau, for example, distributes no material about the festival. Few guidebooks, except some written by foreigners, describe it. Only a handful of local newspapers publish photographs of it.
NEWS
July 6, 1992 | TERESA WATANABE, TIMES STAFF WRITER
In a packed room in this city's fashionable Aoyama district, the blond took a deep breath, removed his tortoise-shell glasses and seemed to enter a trance. Moments later, his face reddened. His body convulsed. Voila! Richard Lavin, a chirpy Hawaiian, was now an ageless entity named Ecton who spoke in a British-sounding accent and reeled off otherworldly advice. To one forlorn woman who asked whether she should quit a boring job, he counseled: "Don't float away, but float away if you want.
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