- Literally 'enshrine together'. The ceremony of apotheosis (enshrinement as kami) of a group of souls, performed since the Meiji era for more than two million war dead at the Yasukuni Jinja and in regional nation-protecting shrines (gokoku jinja) or shrines for the spirits of the war-dead (shokonsha). Since the constitutional separation of religion and state after 1945 around 500 members of the self-defence forces (jietai, i.e. the Japanese armed forces) have been enshrined in goshi ceremonies by the quasi-governmental Veterans' Associations, regardless of earlier funeral arrangements and not always with the consent of close relatives. There is continuing legal controversy over whether the ceremony is religious and whether state patronage of the ceremony is constitutional. The best-known case concerns a member of the jietai who had died in a traffic accident and whose remains were in the care of the Christian church to which his widow belonged. She sued the jietai, which provides the Veterans' Association with its headquarters and other forms of state support, for violating her right to freedom of religion by carrying out the goshi of her husband against her beliefs. She won in the lower courts but in 1988 the supreme court held up an appeal by the state, ruling that it was the Veterans' Association alone which had performed the goshi. Though goshi was indeed religious, the state in the form of the jietai had not been involved in any religious action by assisting the Veterans' Association, nor done any harm to any religion. In a minority report it was held that the jietai had in fact patronised Shinto but had not violated anyone's individual rights. The supreme court also ruled that even if the state carried out unconstitutional religious actions itself, it would not be violating religious rights unless it forced individuals to carry out religious actions against their will. Finally the claim that the widow's 'religious human rights' and peace of mind were violated because her own way of memorialising her husband was usurped by the goshi was dismissed. On this point the court ruled that a person's religious freedom cannot be allowed to limit the religious freedom of another party. In other words, the court upheld the right of the Veterans' Association to carry out the enshrinement because it was a religious action, and therefore the widow should not be allowed to prevent it. Underlying this controversy is the question of who 'owns' the spirit of a deceased Japanese individual; the private family or a group such as the armed forces which may be an organ of the state? Such fundamental issues of individual rights versus civic duties in relation to religion are central to the Yasukuni jinja question.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.