Freedom of religion in Japan

The Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution provides for freedom of religion in Japan, and the government generally respects this right in practice.

Religious demography

The government of Japan does not require religious groups to report their membership, so it was difficult to accurately determine the number of adherents to different religious groups. The Agency for Cultural Affairs reported in 2017 that membership claims by religious groups totaled 182 million.[1] This is out of a total population of 127 million, but does not account for overlapping memberships (some families may be registered at both a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine), or double membership due to change of address. This number, which is nearly twice Japan's population, reflects many citizens' affiliation with multiple religions. For example, it is very common for Japanese to practice both Buddhist and Shinto rites.

According to the Agency's annual yearbook, 85 million persons identify themselves as Shinto, 88 million as Buddhist, 2 million as Christian, and 8 million follow "other" religions, including Tenrikyo, Seicho-no-Ie, the Church of World Messianity, and PL Kyodan.[1] Academics estimate that there are 120 thousand Muslims in Japan, 10 percent of whom are Japanese citizens. The Israeli Embassy estimates that there are approximately 2,000 Jews in the country, most of them foreign-born.

As of December 2017, under the 1951 Religious Juridical Persons Law, the Government recognized 157 schools of Buddhism.[2] The six major schools of Buddhism are Tendai, Shingon, Jōdō, Zen (Sōtō and Rinzai sects), Nichiren, and Nanto Rokushū. In addition, there are a number of Buddhist lay organizations, including Soka Gakkai, which reported a membership of eight million. The two main schools of Shinto are the Association of Shinto Shrines and Kyohashinto.