The Role of Religion in the Life of Zainichi Koreans in Japan
Keywords:Zainichi Koreans, religions, folk religion, identity, representations
Among the many elements that define people’s identity is ethnicity, which refers mainly to a person’s or a group’s sociocultural heritage, based on characteristics such as common or shared national origin, language, religion, dietary preferences, dress and manners, and other traits that denote a common ancestry. Religious identity, especially if shared, can influence one’s socioeconomic adjustment within an ethnic boundary that promotes ethnic identity, and religious faith can be a source of ethnic and even inter-ethnic solidarity. Korean immigrants in Japan established numerous mutual aid organizations, religious institutions, and self-governing bodies that aimed to promote the welfare of Korean communities, and thus work to establish the Korean identity in Japan. The religious practice of Japan’s Korean minority represents Confucianism, Christianity, shamanism, and Buddhism, or even a combination of two or more of them. This paper asks whether religion worked as a strong homogenising and distinguishing factor in the case of Korean minority and how did this role change through the generations of Koreans in Japan?
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