- Shukyo Dantai Ho
- The Religious Organizations Law, enacted on April 8 1939 after a series of failed attempts in 1899, 1927 and 1929. It was designed to protect the imperial system from criticism by religious organizations. The main sponsor was Yamagata, Aritomo, an anti-constitutionalist who was responsible for several other items of repressive legislation against the press, publishers and activists. Yamagata's earlier Peace Preservation Law had been aimed mainly at the actions of revolutionary groups, but the Religious Organizations Law was aimed specifically at religious teachings, and contravened the 1889 Meiji Constitution's provisions on religious freedom. It was approved by the Diet on the basis that the way of the kami (i.e. Shinto) was the absolute way, that all people of the nation should respectfully follow it and that teachings which differed from it must not exist. The law made a clear separation between Shinto shrines and 'religious' bodies and thereby made possible the compulsory observance of shrine visits and the 'people's rite' (kokumin girei). It set up a special court for settling religious conflicts. In order to be registered under this law religious bodies required approval by the Ministry of Education. Further approval was needed for the appointment of their head, alterations to internal regulations or the construction of buildings. Religious teachers were prohibited from expressing political views and could be suspended if they were considered to be a threat to the social order. A group which remained unregistered became a mere shukyo kessha or 'religious association' at the mercy of the Home Ministry or local governors. The conditions required a minimum size for approved religious groups (e.g. for Christians fifty congregations and five thousand members) which ensured that all small sects or denominations had to merge into one body, as well as the appointment of a single president (torisha) with almost absolute powers and directly answerable to the Ministry. The law was vigorously enforced against Christian, Buddhist and other religious organizations up to 1945. It was replaced after the war by the shukyo hojin ho which applied equally to Shinto shrines.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.