YONO TATEKAE (Religious Movement)

‘Yono tatekae’ is a Japanese term which means the ‘reconstruction of the world’. This concept is the Japanese version of millenarianism and hence the most common theme in most (if not all) new religions in Japan (see New Religions (Japan)). Most new religions (see New Religious Movement) advocate the renewal of the world as the ultimate purpose of their religious movement. The concept was not new but rather became more prominent after the nineteenth century. Millenarian concepts and eschatological expectations existed long before the nineteenth century; for example, the concept of the age of mappo (or the last stage of the valid period of the Buddha’s Dharma) has been a frequent theme in Japanese history. In particular, the Buddhist monk, Nichiren (122282), used it to predict the arrival of a painful period in Japan. The general belief in the arrival of ‘Miroku no yo’ or the World of Maitreya (the Future Buddha), was already present as far back as the early eleventh century, as seen in the ‘Tales of Genji’ (written around 1000 CE).

The idea of yono tatekae is a view of collective salvation rather than the salvation of individuals. Like the concept of ‘yonaoshi’, this notion became more prevalent when Japanese society was facing rapid social change, for example around the time of the arrival of the Americans and new trade with foreigners, which began in the mid-nineteenth century. These events brought severe economic problems, particularly for the poor and peasants, and generated a high level of anxiety, anger and a sense of crisis in the world.

The notion of world renewal in the nineteenth century, which was generated mainly by nationalism and a sense of anti-establishment by the socially underprivileged class, is not identical to the concept of the creation of a perfect world, which is to be found in new religious groups in the late twentieth century, especially after the 1970s. The idea of ‘creating a new perfect world on earth’, that is found in ‘new’ new religions after the 1970s, is not the product of rapid social change or industrialization. By the 1970s Japanese society had long ceased to suffer from material and economic deprivation. However, the modern world was still understood to be in a state of crisis, albeit of a different kind. From the perspective of the new religions of the 1970s its causes are believed to lie in wrong thinking and the modern way of living. People have forgotten, these new religions claim, the true purpose of life and do not know where the heart of God is. As long as people live without spiritual awareness, their lives in this modern, scientific world will soon be subjected to some extremely painful experience, to a ‘purificatory period’, even to a ‘final judgement of God’, ‘armageddon’, the ‘baptism of fire’ and so on. Sometimes the name of the sixteenth century French physician, Nostradamus, has been employed in order to support these views on impending disaster. This type of belief system can induce a great deal of fear, and at the same time it can offer hope.

Some of the new religions of the 1970s and later do not predict such apocalyptic periods but rather place more emphasis on the creation of a New Perfect World on earth. Such a Perfect World is to be created by the members of NRMs themselves, for example, simply by becoming good, positive and happy individuals. The process for this may involve studying and practising a group’s doctrine, doing voluntary work for a very long time, attending and inviting friends to the group’s sessions, and so on. Strictly speaking, the view of ‘yono tatekae’ within the new religions of Japan of the 1970s and later, is not about renewal of the outer world (political and social), but more accurately, is about the reconstruction of the inner world of individuals which will eventually change the real world.

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