Radical Buddhists of Early Shōwa
Chapter 6, “Extremes Meet: Radical Buddhists of Early Shōwa,” examines the intellectual discussions on modernity of the 1930s, as well as the struggles of Buddhist leaders, priests, scholars, and laypeople to adjust to the rising tide of nationalism. The chapter focuses in particular on the Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism (Shinkō Bukkyō Seinen Dōmei 新興仏教青年同盟), led by Nichiren Buddhist layman Seno’o Girō. The case of Seno’o is used to explore some of the problems and tensions inherent in “engaged Buddhism,” as well as the use of the Lotus Sutra and Nichiren/Nichirenist ideas as a locus for progressive Buddhist politics. The chapter ends with a discussion of the life and work of Sano Manabu 佐野学 (1892–1953), a leader of the interwar communist movement who “converted” to the imperial cause while espousing an alternative form of Buddhist Marxism.
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