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The new religions of Japan are called shin shūkyō or shinkō shūkyō by most Japanese scholars. Shin shūkyō means “new religion,” and shinkō shūkyō means “newly arisen religion.” The former is usually regarded as a more value-free expression and is preferred in academic circles. Shin shūkyō include a variety of newly established religious groups in modern Japan. It has been estimated that some 10% of the Japanese population currently have some degree of adherence to or membership in shin shūkyō. This entry reviews the development, history, and chief characteristics of the modern new religions.

Shin shūkyō are often contrasted with what are called “established religions,” namely, the various preexisting, traditional sects of Buddhism and shrine Shinto. Although shin shūkyō possess deep connections with the established ...

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