Nichirenism, utopianism, and modernity rethinking ishiwara kanji’s East Asia league movement

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The East Asia League Association (Tōarenmei kyōkai, or East Asia League Movement, Tōarenmei undō), a Pan-Asianist organization formed in 1939 and active throughout the war and well into the 1950s, can also be seen as one important variant of the modern lay Nichiren Buddhist organizations that sprung up in Japan in the first half of the twentieth century. This article explores the character, history, world view, and practical goals of this movement, and argues that it was committed to an alternative course of modernization that can be characterized as a Nichiren Buddhist utopianism. While the theory of the final war propagated by its leader, Ishiwara Kanji, is relatively well known, this article analyzes several less known—though central and distinct— elements of the East Asia League: its emphasis on the harmony of religion, science, and technology, as well as the roles of Koreans and women in the movement. This analysis shows how the East Asia League Movement engaged with particular elements of modernity: the nation-state, national identity and minorities, urbanization and the countryside, gender inequality, and religion and science, and hoped to replace the differentiations of the modern era with the unity of the Lotus Sutra.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-274
Number of pages40
JournalJapanese Journal of Religious Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • East Asia league movement
  • Ishiwara kanji
  • Lotus sutra
  • Nichiren buddhism
  • Nichirenism
  • Science and religion
  • Utopianism
  • Women in buddhism


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