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Imagining an Islamic Japan: pan-Asianism’s encounter with Muslim mission


Brandenburg, Ulrich (2020). Imagining an Islamic Japan: pan-Asianism’s encounter with Muslim mission. Japan Forum, 32(2):161-184.

Abstract

Under the influence of a globalized discourse about Japan’s uncertain religious future, many Muslims in the early twentieth century placed Meiji Japan in a religious imaginary, in which Japan became the arena for a competition between different religious aspirations. This religious imaginary is an example of the effect of mediated connections, in which information from Japan to Muslim majority regions and vice versa was generally transmitted through Euro-American channels. As a result, Muslims envisioned strategies to convert the Japanese to Islam, aiming to demonstrate the universal relevance of their religion. While this led to a number of missionary endeavours, which quickly ended in failure, it was in the realm of the imperial imaginary that Islam as a geopolitical tool became attractive to pan-Asianist circles in Japan. In collaboration with select Muslim partners and by giving visibility to the existence of Islam in Japan, Japanese pan-Asianists of the late Meiji period tried to inspire loyalties in Muslim regions for the benefit of Japan’s imperial goals. Although this partnership would not last long, it prepared the ground for Japan’s Islam policy in the 1930s and 1940s, which characteristically blended pan-Asianism with religion and the showcasing of Muslim life in Japan.

Abstract

Under the influence of a globalized discourse about Japan’s uncertain religious future, many Muslims in the early twentieth century placed Meiji Japan in a religious imaginary, in which Japan became the arena for a competition between different religious aspirations. This religious imaginary is an example of the effect of mediated connections, in which information from Japan to Muslim majority regions and vice versa was generally transmitted through Euro-American channels. As a result, Muslims envisioned strategies to convert the Japanese to Islam, aiming to demonstrate the universal relevance of their religion. While this led to a number of missionary endeavours, which quickly ended in failure, it was in the realm of the imperial imaginary that Islam as a geopolitical tool became attractive to pan-Asianist circles in Japan. In collaboration with select Muslim partners and by giving visibility to the existence of Islam in Japan, Japanese pan-Asianists of the late Meiji period tried to inspire loyalties in Muslim regions for the benefit of Japan’s imperial goals. Although this partnership would not last long, it prepared the ground for Japan’s Islam policy in the 1930s and 1940s, which characteristically blended pan-Asianism with religion and the showcasing of Muslim life in Japan.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
290 Other religions
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > History
Social Sciences & Humanities > Sociology and Political Science
Language:English
Date:2 April 2020
Deposited On:28 Jan 2021 08:38
Last Modified:29 Jan 2021 21:00
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0955-5803
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/09555803.2018.1516689

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