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Shinto and War Interview Questions

Jimmy Flood

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Hey Guys, I'm an IB World Religions student conducting a research paper on Shinto and War/Armed Conflicts. If any of you are Shinto and willing to answer these questions, please respond as soon as possible:


Shinto Interview Questions: War and Armed Conflicts


  1. As there is no official dogma of Shinto, which texts do you use to determine how to live your life according to Shinto beliefs?

  2. What is your personal belief about fighting in wars or being involved with armed conflicts?

    1. What in life, in practice of Shinto, or in reading the Nihon Shoki, Kojiki, or your preferred sacred texts has influenced you to hold such a belief?

    2. How do you think your personal belief compares to the consensus of Shinto worshippers about War/Armed Conflicts?

    3. How do you think your personal belief compares to the community of your Shrine?
  3. Do you believe that everything (that could host Kami) that is killed or destroyed must be honored in order to prevent the creation of evil spirits?

    1. Do you believe War is honorable as a whole?

      1. If yes, what influence does your faith have on this belief?

      2. If no, do you believe certain aspects can be honorable or dishonorable? What influence does your faith have on this belief?
    2. In situations of war:

      1. Do you believe there is honor in killing another in hand-to-hand combat?

      2. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with a bladed weapon in combat?

      3. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with a firearm up close?

      4. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with a firearm from a long distance?

      5. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with a small explosive device (grenade, c4) up close?

      6. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with a pressured explosive such as a land mine?

      7. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with a medium-sized explosive (bomb, torpedo)?

      8. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with a large explosive (atomic weapon)?

      9. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with poison (gas bomb, poisoning water, etc.)

      10. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with fire?

      11. Do you believe there is honor in killing someone with heavy artillery weaponry such as rounds fired from a tank or battleship?

      12. How do your answers change in regards to civilians versus soldiers being killed in those methods?

      13. How do your answers change if the people being killed are armed versus if they are unarmed?

      14. How do your answers change if those killing people cannot see their targets versus being able to see their targets?

      15. How do your answers change based on the scale of death (numbers of people killed or injured)?

      16. What influence does your faith have on your answers?
    3. Do you consider the deforestation, mining, and all the harmful effects that come with gathering supplies for war to be dishonorable?

    4. What could those doing the killing/destroying do to remedy their actions and/or honor those that they killed and the nature they destroyed?
  4. If you hold the belief that there are Kami within everything in Nature, then do you consider the killing of animate objects or the destruction of some aspects of nature to be the destruction of sacred spirits? How does one honor what it kills or destroys?

  5. “Izanami said, ‘My lovely elder brother! If you do things like this, I will in one day strangle to death a thousand of the folk of your land.’ Then Izanagi replied: ‘My lovely younger sister! If you do that, I will in one day set up a thousand five hundred huts in which women can give birth. In this manner each day a thousand people will surely die, but each day a thousand five hundred people will surely be born.’” (“Selections from the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki”)

    1. What do you believe the message of this passage to be? Do you see a focus to any degree on the use of violence as necessary?
  6. During the Kamakura Shogunate, warriors connected strongly with Shinto and worshipped the Shinto deities. What aspect(s) of Shinto do you think appealed to this warrior class? Do you think this justified the use of violence by these warriors, or provided guidance for how to respect those they have killed?

  7. “State Shinto found a secure place as the state religion and the government tightened control over the various religions as they were mobilized for the war effort. Murakami explains that the doctrine of State Shinto, the "Kokutai discourse" or "discourse on the national polity" (kokutaron), supported the foreign military ventures through the concept of world as a single family.” (“State Shinto in the Lives of the People...In Late Meiji”)

    1. Do you see the use of State Shinto to rally the Japanese people leading into World War I as legitimate? To clarify, was the justification of State Shinto by the Japanese government true to the principles of Shinto?

    2. Do you see the use of State Shinto to rally the Japanese people leading into World War I as necessary to prepare the country for armed conflict?

    3. Do you see State Shinto as a real form of Shinto? Or was it so far warped from the true ideologies of the religion to be legitimately connected?
  8. As you most likely know, a big focus in Shinto is purification, as purification rituals are done often. Are there any specific actions or events that make someone in need of purification? Or does everyone need to purify themselves often regardless of actions?


Thank You!!! I greatly appreciate your time in order to answer these questions I have posed. As an IB World Religions student, it means a lot to me to hear your valuable responses. Feel free to mention anything else that comes to mind that you believe would enhance my understanding of the Shinto stance towards armed conflict. If you need me to clarify anything, and if you have any questions in general, you can reach me through this thread.
 
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