Shinkoku (divine land) (神国)

Shinkoku (Shinshu) means 'country of God'
Called the descendants of the Sun Goddess who reigned and ruled the government under the eternal oracle of god in an unbroken line, due to such a government, Shinkoku means the nation promised to be forever protected by god by having belief in the Imperial family to support such a government, and also nation who were descendants of various gods that have a close relationship with politics and Shinto rituals.

About the belief
In the old days, the Japanese nation and the land was said to be created and protected by various gods based on this belief (the thoughts of Shinkoku or divine land). Originally it came from a belief based upon farming, following agricultural ceremonies, but later on it was connected with the chosen people and it changed into nationalism, anti-foreignism, and hegemonism. In recent years, this belief was exaggerated in Wars against other countries and was supported by state sponsorship of Shintoism.

The first time the word 'Shinkoku' appeared was in the "Chronicles of Japan," it was said when Empress Jungu raised an army at 'Sankan Seibatsu' (The Conquest of the Three Korean Kingdoms), the king of Silla (Kingdom) proclaimed 'it was an army from Shinkoku' and surrendered without fighting. It is said that this incident was always quoted when confronting cases of crisis against other countries and this was the reason the belief of the Shinkoku was established in Japan. After Buddhism was introduced, Shinkoku was taught by the Mononobe clan who believed in Shinto, however the conflict between the belief of Shinkoku and Buddhism were temporarily eased after synchronization of Shinto with Buddhism was introduced. After the Heian period, as government ceremonies, according to the Ritsuryo codes, became more popular, it was mentioned in literature such as "Nihon Sandai Jitsuroku" (sixth of the six classical Japanese history texts), or 'Koshigoe-jo' (Yoshitsune's letter sent from Koshigoe) written by MINAMOTO no Yoshitusune.

However, from the late Heian period, there was a belief to deny the current world such as Mappo (Age of the Final Dharma) or spread of the New Kamakura Buddhism founded during, and after people were experiencing the crisis of having a ceremony centered government that was becoming estranged, instead of having a realistic government, the belief of Shinkoku became popular among the nobility and the Imperial family.

Furthermore, there was an incident where the Mongolian Invasions were twice repulsed by what was called the "Kamikaze" (divine wind) in later periods which greatly influenced the above. There was a legend that prayer organized in various shrines such as the Ise-jingu Shrine, used to beat the opposition worked well, and also the fact, that Samurai who struggled to fight back against the former dynasty's group tactics and asked for protection from god, further spread the idea within Japan that Japan was Shinkoku. Due to this, Pure Land Buddhism and the New Kamakura Buddhism seemed to change in order to adopt this tendency, Japanese Buddhism changed with the idea that protection of the gods come first, the teaching of saving the Mappo (Age of the Final Dharma) was established based on the idea that Japan was the country of Shinkoku, including Hokke sect which taught that gods were subordinate to Buddha. It is typical example of assertion that 'Mahayana (great vehicle) Buddhism was completed in Japan' in "Genko-Shakusho" (History of Buddhism of the Genko era) by Kokan Shiren.

Furthermore, it was Chikafusa KITABATAKE, the author of "Junno shotoki" (Record of the Legitimate Succession of the Divine Emperors), who declared the 'Japanese Empire is Shinkoku' in one phase. Chikafusa influenced the coming age by clearly insisting that the nation of Japan was maintained with emperors who were legitimate descendants of Amaterasu Omikami (the Sun Goddess).

In the Edo period, once the study of ancient Japanese thought, classics, and Shinto became popular under the view point of criticizing beliefs from overseas like Confucianism and Buddhism, the belief of Shinkoku was widely accepted, it developed the principle of excluding foreigners in the face of pressure from Western ships coming to Japan in the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, the movement of "Revere the Emperor and expel the barbarians" (19th century slogan advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of the barbarians or foreigners) was established which caused of the fall of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

After the Meiji period, national shinto was supported and at the same time it was patriotic to go against Europeanized thought and the route to modernism. However this belief changed to anti-foreignism after the expansion of Japanese militarism, the extension of the colony. The movement reached it's pinnacle in the Greater East Asia (Asian) War (the Pacific War), it caused the death of many people from Kamikaze suicide attacks (suicide corps), homeland defense war (the Hondo Kessen) under the belief of 'Shinshu Fumetsu' (the Immortal Divine Land).
At the end of the War, even though it was apparent that Japan was going to lose, it is said some people truly believed that 'soon there would be "Kamikaze" (divine wind) and it would sink the enemy fleet into the sea.'

Considering the above, the strict principle of separation of government and religion, and the freedom of religion in the Constitution of Japan were later introduced to rid Shinkoku belief from politics, and it appeared that belief in Shinkoku was wiped from the surface of Japanese society.

On May 15, 2000, it became a current topic when Yoshiro MORI (Prime Minister at that time) announced 'Japan is county of god with the Emperor as the centre of the country' (please refer to the chapter concerning the announcement of the country of god).

The example of 'Shinkoku'

"Omoidasu koto nado" (Remembrances) by Soseki NATSUME, October 1910 - April 1911
Realizing that Japan was not the only country of god after seeing weird black ships coming to Japan.'
"Kushu soso kyoku" (Funeral march of the air raid) by Juza UNNO, May - September 1932
It was one of the miracles that often occurred in the country of god, Japan from three thousand years ago.'

"Yoake-mae" (Before the Dawn) by Toson SHIMAZAKI, November 1935
All had to perform duties as the descendants of god to maintain the basic belief that "we are a nation of god," even Buddhist monks.'

"Konnichi no Nihon no Bunka Mondai" (Today's problem of Japanese culture) by Yuriko MIYAMOTO, January 1949.
The conservative Japanese government officials tried to keep the traditional Shinkoku spirit in any form and for any occasion.'

[Original Japanese]