Why are increasing numbers of Japanese now turning to new religions? Because Japanese today feel they have nothing to fall back on. Even those who do not embrace new religions feel this way. That is why new religions continue to spring forth like mushrooms.

The Japanese people have lost their religious faith and their sense of ethics. Ethics is taught neither in school nor at home. People raised in such conditions in turn raise their children in the same manner.

Before and during the war, the Emperor was an absolute deity — someone whom the people could place their hope in. But to the Japanese people’s great surprise, on Jan. 1, 1946, the Emperor declared that he was not divine, and in doing so deprived the people of their first pillar of spiritual support.

The second pillar of spiritual support was the Imperial Rescript on Education, which was taught to all primary school students until the end of World War II. The rescript contained Confucian ethical rules: husbands and wives must love each other; brothers and sisters must help each other; friends must trust each other; teachers must be respected; and the aged must be looked after.

On Dec. 31, 1945, however, the Allied Occupation forces abolished the rescript. Since then, Japanese have received no ethics education.

Nowadays, not a day goes by without horrifying news stories of murder between husband and wife, between parent and child, between teacher and student or between friends, as well as sordid stories of men paying underage girls for sex.

Whoever talks about respect for human rights is talking about respect for his or her own selfishness. Selfishness can be permitted only where responsibilities and obligations are met.

The third pillar of the Japanese people’s spiritual support was the teachings of Buddha. These teachings have been weakened since the beginning of the Meiji Era. Until that time, even the Imperial family worshipped Buddhism, but this practice was banned by those loyal to the Emperor.

Prominent Buddhist priests like Saicho, Kukai, Dogen, Shinran and Nichiren had provided spiritual support to the Japanese people. Shotoku Taishi, a secular man, taught that harmony among people is sublime. All of these prominent people provided the Japanese with spiritual support, but after the war, their teachings were increasingly ignored.

The present situation of Japan is such that its people have lost all three pillars of spiritual support. They pursue nothing but mundane interests. That is why they are so attracted to new religions. They have degraded themselves and become materialists.

Who is working to restore humanity to these people? Although politicians should assume primary responsibility, nothing is being done. The teachings of Buddha contains universal truths, as do the teachings of Jesus Christ. The Japanese must begin to think about ethics and religion again.

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