Kyobusho (Ministry of Religion) (教部省)

Kyobusho (Ministry of Religion) is the central governmental organ founded for the purpose of national edification by controlling religion under Dajokan System (the system of Great Council of State) established in the early Meiji period.


On April 21, 1872, the Meiji government reorganized Jingisho (Ministry of Divinities) by merging the department with the Department of shrines and temples of Minbusho (Ministry of Popular Affairs). After the failure of Shintoism instructed by the Shinto Missionary division set up inside of the department of Jingikan (officers of the institution for dedicating to religious ceremony) and the edification based on the ideas of Confucianism, Buddhism, the largest religious group of the days, and particularly its Jodo Shinshu Sect (the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) requested the government to jointly propagate three religions in Japan, including Shintoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. While implementing modernistic religious policies including the cancellation of a ban on Christianity (in reality a tacit permission) and the prohibition against woman entering a sacred area at temples and shrines, Kyobusho also established a system called the kyodoshoku (evangelist) system, and propagated national edification and the Imperial Edict (of 1870) for Establishment of Shinto under Daikyoin (Great Teaching Institute) in order to realize the edification and enlightenment of citizens after the failure of the Jingikan department. The kyodoshoku was a semi-governmental appointive position, and not only members of religious groups such as Shinto priests and Buddhist monks but also Rakugo story tellers, Waka poets, Haiku poets, etc. were appointed to the position. In order to edify citizens more specifically, Daikyoin (Great Teaching Institute) as the national organization to supervise kyodoshoku and Chukyoin (Intermediate Teaching Institute) as the prefectural organization to supervise kyodoshoku were established, and Shokyoin (Small Teaching Institute) were set up in many places all over the country. However, Kyobusho could not achieve significant results because of the critical conflict between the up-and-coming Shintoism group and the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist sect group that had kept its long-established power, and eventually the Jodo Shinshu sect broke away from Daikyoin, which led to the abolition of Kyobusho on January 11, 1877 while its functions were transferred to the Bureau of shrines and temples.

The issues over Kyobusho

It was established after the failure of Jingikan and its Shinto Missionaries, but consequently it also ended up with abolition. The reason for this can be found in the confusion over administration of religions. At first, the Meiji government intended to keep citizens away from the influence of Christianity and to educate them on the new systems made by the new government renewed after the Meiji Restoration with authority and foundations of the Japanese traditional religion; however, the separation of religion and politics and the freedom of religion were essential policies in order to establish a modernized nation, and the cancellation of a ban on Christianity was indispensable to maintain the diplomatic relationships with Western countries. In addition, the Meiji government considered that the establishment of the educational system throughout Japan could satisfy the purpose of national edification at the same time and thus became skeptical of Kyobusho, and these inconsistencies made the existing religious groups rush around in confusion. In such confusion, the Buddhist group that had been put in the inferior position under the movement of separation of Buddhism and Shintoism, especially the Jodo Shinshu sect that had supported the movement to overthrow the shogunate, promoted ingenious political maneuvers and successfully persuaded the government to establish Kyobusho. However, triggered by the dispute over naming of the Ikko sect (the issue that government attempted to enforce the name of 'Ikko' as an official name on the Jodo Shinshu sect even though the sect had officially rejected it), the repugnance against the government grew within the Jodo Shinshu sect, and the Jodo Shinshu sect withdrew from Kyobusho after the policy of Kyobusho reached a deadlock on the basis of the separation of religion and politics.

The issue on Daikyoin Shrine

Daikyoin, the national organization to supervise kyodoshoku (evangelists), was established in Zojo-ji Temple located in Shiba, Tokyo Prefecture. Since the establishment of Daikyoin was led by the leadership of the Buddhist power, Zojo-ji Temple voluntarily offered to provide its facilities for Daikyoin at first, but once Shinto power began to take control of the administration of Daikyoin, Zojo-ji Temple tried to retract its initial proposal. However, the plan of the contribution of the facilities of Zojo-ji Temple was pursued according to schedule, and the main hall of the temple was almost forcefully taken away and used as the haiden (a worship hall at a Shinto shrine) of Daikyoin Shrine. Furthermore, Kyobusho enforced attendance and religious services at rituals performed at the shrine on the Buddhist priests who were Kyodoshoku, which made part of Buddhist power furious (on the other hand, some Buddhist priests fervently celebrated them by setting up a flag). On January 1, 1874, a former Satsuma clan member, who believed in the abolition of Buddhism, set fire to Zojo-ji Temple opposing a shrine set up in the temple, and thus the main hall of former Zojo-ji Temple was totally burned down while its shintai (a sacred object) was barely saved. This shintai was temporarily placed in Shiba Tosho-gu Shrine, and afterward moved in the shrine in the Secretariat of Shinto later set up by the Shinto group.

The minister of Kyobusho

Kyoubu kyo (The minister of Kyobusho)
Sanenaru SAGA (1872)
Takato OKI (1872 - 1873)

Kyobu taifu (The vice-minister of Kyobusho)
Bisei FUKUBA (former Jingi Taifu [the vice-minister of the institution for dedicating to religious ceremony]) (- 1872)
Iwane SHISHIDO (1872 - 1877)

Kyodoshoku (evangelist)

Daikyosei (the director general of Daikyoin)
Chukyosei (the director general of Chukyoin)
Shokyosei (the director of Shokyoin)

[Original Japanese]