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Religious Adherents, 2010 (World Christian Database)1

Japan Eastern Asia World
Baha'i <0.1% <0.1% 0.1%
Buddhist 56.4% 19.0% 7.2%
Chinese Universalist 0.2% 26.8% 6.3%
Christian 2.1% 8.1% 32.8%
Confucianist <0.1% 0.4% 0.1%
Ethnoreligionist <0.1% 4.4% 3.5%
Hindu <0.1% <0.1% 13.8%
Jain <0.1% <0.1% <0.1%
Jewish <0.1% <0.1% 0.2%
Muslim 0.2% 1.4% 22.5%
Shintoist 2.1% 0.2% <0.1%
Sikh <0.1% <0.1% 0.3%
Spiritist 0.0% <0.1% 0.2%
Taoist 0.0% 0.5% 0.1%
Zoroastrian 0.0% <0.1% <0.1%
Neoreligionists 25.9% 2.8% 0.9%
Atheist 2.9% 6.7% 2.0%
Agnostic 10.2% 29.7% 9.8%

Religious Demography2

The country has an area of 145,884 square miles and a population of 128 million. Since the Government does not require religious groups to report their membership, it was difficult to accurately determine the number of adherents to different religious groups. The Agency for Cultural Affairs reported in 2006 that membership claims by religious groups totaled 209 million persons. 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, 107 million persons identify themselves as Shinto, 89 million as Buddhist, 3 million as Christian, and 10 million follow "other" religions, including Tenrikyo, Seichounoie, Sekai Kyusei Kyo, and Perfect Liberty. Academics estimate that there are 115,000 to 125,000 Muslims in Japan, of which 10 percent 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 2006, under the 1951 Religious Juridical Persons Law, the Government recognized 154 schools of Buddhism. The six major schools of Buddhism are Tendai, Shingon, Jodo, Zen (Soto and Rinzai sects), Nichiren, and Narabukkyo. In addition, there are a number of Buddhist lay organizations, including Soka Gakkai, which reported a membership of 8 million "households." The two main schools of Shintoism are Jinjahoncho and Kyohashinto. Roman Catholicism and Protestantism have modest followings.


Note: The World Christian Database (WCD) estimates, used in the Religious Adherents section above, count each person as belonging to a maximum of one religious group. For more information, see the WCD methodology document. The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom report estimates, used in the Religious Demography section, use less restrictive criteria in which a person who identifies with more than one religion is classified as a follower of each. In certain cases (such as Japan and other nations with strong folk religion traditions), this can cause counts to vary widely between estimates. Users are advised to consult the relevant source documents before determining which counts to cite.

1.  The World Christian Database (WCD) is based on the 2600-page award-winning World Christian Encyclopedia and World Christian Trends, first published in 1982 and revised in 2001. This extensive work on World religion is now completely updated and integrated into the WCD online database. Designed for both the casual user and research scholar, information is readily available on religious activities, growth rates, religious literature, worker activity, and demographic statistics. Additional secular data is incorporated on population, health, education, and communications. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. Used with permission.

2.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

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