Japan and Islam World

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Translation / 翻訳

1)Japan’s Dialogue with Islamic Countries

Japan’s foreign minister Yohei Kohno advocated Japan’s dialogue with Islamic countries in 2000.  He thought despite the fact that significant proportion of the world population, namely more than one fouth of it, believe in Islam, the understanding of Islam in Japan has not achieved the required level.  Following Kohno’s idea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan established the Study Group for Islam in the ministry.  This group came to conclusion, namely, necessity for deepening the understanding of Islam in Japan. The group advocated that eliminating inaccuracy in understanding Islam merely by extreme groups, Japan should enhance the mutual understanding between Japan and external Islamic countries.  Because Japan has not experienced any aggression on Islamic countries except the South East Asia, Japan has favorable backgrounds to promote good relationship with Muslim countries.  On the other hand, located close to Japan, South East Asian counties have been having strong ties with Japan regarding economy and security issue, Japan should know Islamic culture in those countries, too. 

2)Islam in Japan

The number of Muslims in Japan is about 100,000-200,000 people including about 10,000 Japanese Muslims.  There are about 105 masjids in Japan in 2018.  The problems of Muslims in Japan are there are a few Islamic schools in Japan and no Islamic university and only one Muslim’s graveyard which is located in Enzan, Yamanashi prefecture. Cremation is common in Japan now, different from Islam’s burial. 

Many Japanese people share the values such as sincerity, stoicism and mercy which are made much of by in Islam, too. Sincerity may be derived from Japanese Bushido’s spirit shisei (至誠:devotion). 

3)Japan’s Peaceful Involvement in the Islamic World

As Japan is the only country that has suffered nuclear attack, it is not acceptable for Japan to have more nations possessing nuclear arms.

More than half of Japanese are supporting the article 9 of Japan’s constitution, which prohibits war.  So, the best way of Japan’s foreign policy is to be conscious of human security in the world and seek the fruitful results to reduce violence although it is long process.  We have to stop or curb the growth of extremists’ activities.

The international community, especially the more economically advanced countries, should seek to improve the economic plight of Islamic nations, and promote investment so as to reduce poverty and create jobs for the youth of the South Asia. Poverty and unemployment are strong incentives for disaffected people to join Islamic extremist groups. To sum up, it is absolutely essential that the international community cooperates to prevent further violent activities, including human security area. Cooperation is required in many fields.

Picture: Tokyo Camii (masjid)

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宮田律の中東イスラム世界と日本、国際社会

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