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  Preferred Religion (2015)1: Japanese Religious Complex

  Majority Religion (2015)2: Mahayana Buddhist (56.3%)

Religious Adherents, (2015)2

Japan Eastern Asia World
Buddhist (all denominations combined) 56.3% 19.3% 6.6%
 
  • Mahayana Buddhist
  • 56.3% 18.4% 4.3%
     
  • Other and Unknown Buddhist
  • < 0.1% 0.2% 0.5%
    Shintoist 28% 2.2% 0.5%
    Christian (all denominations combined) 1.2% 7.8% 29.9%
     
  • Pentecostal
  • 0.2% 0.6% 2.8%
     
  • Catholic
  • 0.2% 1.3% 15%
     
  • Protestant
  • 0.2% 2.3% 5.6%
     
  • Other and Unknown Christian
  • 0.6% 3.6% 2.3%
    Chinese Folk Religionist 0.2% 18.7% 4.3%
    Muslim (all denominations combined) 0.2% 1.5% 22.8%
     
  • Sunni Muslim
  • 0.1% 1.5% 19%
     
  • Other and Unknown Muslim
  • 0.1% < 0.1% 0.3%
    Other Religionist 0.2% < 0.1% 0.2%
    Not Religious (incl. Atheist) 13% 35.6% 12%
    Unknown 0.9% 9.7% 4.8%

    Religious Demography3

    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.


    Sources

    1.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Government Religious Preference (GRP) measures government-level favoritism toward, and disfavor against, 30 religious denominations. A series of ordered categorical variables index the state's institutional favoritism in 28 different ways. The variables are combined to form five composite indices for five broad components of state-religion: official status, religious education, financial support, regulatory burdens, and freedom of practice. The five components' composites in turn are further combined into a single composite score, the GRP score. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    2.  The Religious Characteristics of States Dataset Project: Demographics reports annual estimates of religious demographics, both country by country and region by region. It estimates populations and percentages of adherents of 100 religious denominations including second level subdivisions within Christianity and Islam. The RCS Data Project would like to acknowledge, recognize, and express our deepest gratitude for the significant contributions of Todd M. Johnson, the principal investigator of the World Christian Database, the co-principal investigator of the World Religion Database, and co-author of the World Christian Encyclopedia series.

    3.  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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