JAPAN: Finally Facing A Touchy Subject

LEXIE TUCKER WRITES – Social conduct dictates that people should avoid discussions of religion and politics, but should the media abide by these social laws too?

This year will mark the 19th anniversary of the the Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth) doomsday cult’s toxic nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway system. Resulting in thousands of injuries and 13 deaths, this disaster affected not just the lives of those on the train, but all Japanese citizens.

Naturally, the  media covered new-age religions in a completely negative light in the immediate aftermath of this horrifying catastrophe. But as time went on, the number of articles regarding religion came to a halt.

The deficit of news on religion may have also resulted from media guilt over TV programs that endorsed activities by mystics and seers.  Some feared that this would encourage people to pursue an interest in paranormal phenomena, thereby increasing the likelihood of a desire to join cults similar to Aum Shinrikyo.

What’s interesting to note is the fact that two leading business publications recently ran cover stories on the subject of religion. According to Mark Schreiber of The Japan Times, the “First to appear was Shukan Economist, whose Oct. 22 issue offered an overview of ‘Religion and Economics in 2013.’”  In addition to this, “Nikkei Business (Dec. 16) featured 15 pages under the title ‘Zen and Management’…”

The question at hand is “why now?”  What’s sparked this interest in religious issues after all this time, and why hasn’t it happened sooner? Only time will reveal the answer.

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