How Have Japanese Attitudes and Behavior on Religion Changed?

From the ISSP Survey on Religion: Survey Results in Japan

Published: April 1, 2019

This paper reports the findings of the survey on religion that the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute conducted from October to November 2018 as a member of the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP), focusing on the time-series comparison of the latest and past survey results in Japan.

The summary of the findings is as follows. (1) While the percentages of believers of different religions remain almost the same, religious faith is weakening, and people pray to the gods less frequently. (2) There is a decrease in those who feel that “the sun (God) is watching them,” “supernatural powers exists,” and “deities dwell in nature”—notions that have long been regarded as traditional values of the Japanese. (3) Those who expect religions to play certain roles such as “providing comfort” are decreasing. Those who find religions dangerous outnumber those who do not. (4) By religious groups, there are more negative attitudes towards Muslims than towards the members of other religious groups.

In Japan, presumably, there are many people who have never thought deeply about religion. However, the situation may change as the revised Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act will come into effect in April 2019, which will boost the acceptance of foreign workforce. If one gets acquainted with more people with different religious views, there will be more cases where one needs to think about “the Japanese and religion” than before.

The NHK Monthly Report on Broadcast Research

Toshiyuki Kobayashi

in Japanese