Bookmark and Share
go back to Zen Essays: Critical Zen


Buddhism, Human Rights and the Japanese State
Hakuin's Daruma

John M. Peek
Associate Professor of political science at Centenary College of Louisiana
This paper was prepared for the Southwest Conference on Asian Studies, October 1992.


In 1947, under unrelenting pressure from the US lead occupation forces, the government of Japan approved a new constitution. 1 At the heart of this new constitution were a transfer of sovereignty from the Emperor to the people of Japan, the replacement of the household with the individual as the basic unit of society, and the related recognition of a wide array of individual political, social, and economic rights. Nearly fifty years later this constitutional revolution is one of the few reforms carried out by the occupation that remains intact.

A number of factors have contributed to the ability of the principles set forth in the constitution to weather the periodic demand of the political right to purge the constitution of elements foreign to Japanese society. 2 This paper argues that one of the most significant and most overlooked explanations lies in the fact that the concepts of popular sovereignty and human rights have deep roots in Japanese culture. Specifically, it attempts to demonstrate that Buddhism, as one of the "Three Treasures" of Japanese culture, is inherently antithetical to the authoritarian socio-political structures that have periodically been imposed on the people of Japan. 3

Our analysis will begin with an overview of the core teachings of Buddhism with special emphasis on the centrality of the individual. From there it will proceed to a discussion of the proper nature of political, economic, and societal relationships according to Buddhism. It will end with a summary of the fundamental human rights that can be derived from Buddhism.


Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, is estimated to have lived in northern India between 566 and 483 B.C. He is claimed to have devoted most of his adult life to a negation of the prevailing Brahmanic religion and the related caste system. The heart of his teachings (Dharma) is an explication of the path to transcending the rounds of existence and attaining Nirvana (self-enlightenment). Movement along the path towards Nirvana involves the accumulation of positive Karma that comes with thinking and behaving in a manner consistent with that which is morally just.

Those traits considered essential to the accumulation of positive Karma are collectively referred to as the Eightfold Noble Path. The Eightfold Noble Path in ascending order consists of right views, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation. 4 Right views refers to a recognition of the teachings of Buddha as simply guidelines to the attainment of self-enlightenment. Dharma is not to be mistaken for a set of absolute dictums or divine commandments. Herein lies Buddhism's fundamental aversion to dogma and dogmatists.

Right thought involves a renunciation of lust and greed. Right speech is being truthful. Right action is defined by avoiding harm to others. Right livelihood means avoiding such morally reprehensible occupations as trading in weapons, living beings, flesh, intoxicants, drugs, or poisons. Right effort deals with the cultivation of healthy attitudes toward self and others. All five of these paths emphasize the social context of human existence and that self-enlightenment, in large part, comes with assuming personal responsibility for the nature of those social relationships.

Right mindfulness is being constantly alert to possible forces internal and external to the individual that could lead to a harmful thought, word, or action. Progress along the path to Nirvana, thus, also reflects one's success in avoiding the accumulation of negative Karma. Consequently, there is nothing in Buddhism comparable to wiping the slate clean through some form of absolution, nor perhaps to the temptation to sin now and seek forgiveness later. Right contemplation is acquiring the clearness and composure of mind that allows for the attainment of Nirvana.

While the Eightfold Noble Path reflects much of the ethical system of Buddhism, the core principles are referred to as the Five Precepts. 5 The Five Precepts are to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, falsehoods, and intoxicants. The Five Precepts must not be viewed in the same context as the Ten Commandments even though there are some similarities in content. The most visible difference lies in the fact that there is in Buddhism no "Creator" capable of issuing a set of specific commandments to mankind under threat of severe and even eternal punishment. The Buddhist rejection of a "Creator" places it not only at odds with Christianity and Islam, but also with Shintoism and in turn with the basis of the power of the Japanese Emperor.

A more subtle distinction is that in Buddhism the ability to disobey the commandments, in other words, free will, is not a gift bestowed by the "Creator" primarily to test one's faith and prove one's worthiness for admission to His Kingdom. Rather, Buddhism assumes that each individual is inherently free to ignore or follow the Five Precepts. While the power to choose emanates from within the individual, the choices made are not without consequences. According to what is sometimes referred to as the radiation theory, a morally unjust act radiates a negative Karma that harms not only the victim but ultimately the actor as well. 6 One's quest for Nirvana is thus served by living by the old adage "what goes around, comes around."

The idea of interrelatedness noted above is a pervasive theme in Buddhism. Another important manifestation of this theme is the theory of dependent origination. 7 This theory proclaims the interdependence of all life--past, present, and future--throughout the cosmos. In its broadest sense, this theory rejects as illusionary the separation of mankind from other living creatures that results from the claim that mankind alone has a soul. Buddhists believe that this illusionary separation of various life forms can lead to at least two pernicious results related to this study: religious tolerance of wanton destruction of the environment, and socio-political hierarchies based on one's claimed proximity to God(s).

In a slightly narrower sense, the theory of dependent origination argues that the existence of each of us is to a significant degree dependent on those who preceded us and those that share this world with us, and that in a like manner those yet to be born are dependent on all those that preceded them. A more forceful reminder of our gratitude to previous generations and of our responsibilities to future generations is hard to come by.

Also central to this study is the theory of dependent origination's explicit denial of the idea of substantiality, independent existence. In Buddhism the self as an existence apart from the existence of others is illusory. Simply put, no man is an island. Self-enlightenment, accordingly, begins with the rejection of the duality of self and other, and proceeds with an increased understanding of the state of nonself. At its core nonself is a state of mind devoid of egotism. After some final words on the essentials of Buddhism, we will have more to say on the concept of non self and its implications for this study.

The final component of Buddhism of which we need some understanding before proceeding is the recognition and acceptance of the impermanence of all things. A wealthy person can quickly sink into poverty. A healthy person can suddenly become seriously ill. The celebration of life can soon be followed by the ceremonies surrounding death. There is no sense of morbidity here, on the contrary, the acceptance of impermanence is an important key to happiness. It is much more than that, however. Additionally, we are reminded of the equality of all of us before the law of impermanence, and of the need to replace sympathy from afar with a compassionate desire to directly aid the suffering.

This inclination towards social activism supposedly touches every member of the Buddhist community, even those at the pinnacle of the process of self-enlightenment. It is widely held that, at the same moment that one attains Nirvana, one has also reached a level of egolessness that naturally redirects one to this world. "True compassion can be reached only by transcending Nirvana to return to and work in the midst of the suffering of the ever-changing world." 8 In this world, one seeks to aid others in overcoming the ignorance that is the first link of the chain of causation leading to sorrow. 9 Thus, in contrast to most other world religions, Buddhism emphasizes learning, not faith, and the quality of life in this world, not the next.


Especially for those of us raised in the West, the Buddhist conception of the nonself can be difficult to grasp. It is often mistakenly taken to mean the lack of a clear sense of self-identity or an unrestrained sacrificing of individual interests for the sake of one's immediate group or the state. If either were the case, then any talk of individual rights in the context of Buddhism would make little sense. Therefore, we need to further develop our understanding of the concept of nonself, especially as it relates to the acknowledgement of the existence of fundamental human rights. We will use a comparison of Buddhism with the other two of the "Three Treasures," Shintoism and Confucianism, to help us in this process.

In Shintoism, the Emperor is presented as a living god with ultimate moral and political authority in this realm. While the Emperor is not explicitly considered to be infallible, there is in Shintoism no basis upon which an individual may legitimately challenge the will of the Emperor. Thus, even challenges considered by the Emperor to have some merit must result in the punishment of the challenger. In the absence of any recognized moral or political right to protest, the protester must dutifully accept and sometimes even self-inflict the punishment decreed by the Emperor. The Emperor may, of course, suspend certain duties or grant specific privileges, but these remain totally dependent on the benevolence of the Emperor. At best, the relationship between the people and the Emperor is comparable to a benevolent father caring for his totally dependent children. At its worst, the children quietly endure their abusive parent. In neither case are the needs of the individual members of the family viewed as on the same plane as those of the patriarch. In both cases the people are subjects, and not right-bearing citizens.

While Shintoism provides a justification for a total concentration of power in the hands of the Emperor, its lack of a developed ethical system means that compliance with imperial edicts is for all practical purposes dependent on coercion. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that much of the history of the Japanese state is characterized by an Emperor that reigns and a powerful military family that rules. The appeal of Confucianism to Japan's ruling class for over a thousand years can be partly accounted for by its usefulness as an appendage to Shintoism, or more accurately, as a means of gaining political power through moral influence.

Confucianism could be used in the above manner largely because of its relative silence on the supernatural. As a secular philosophy, it contains no divine entity to which all owe moral obligations or that could provide divine sanction for the assumption of political power by other than the descendents of the Sun Goddess, the Japanese Imperial Line. Confucianism in its original form did, however, pose three threats to existing socio-political structures. First, it contained the right to rebel against a ruler that had failed to fulfill his responsibilities to the people. Second, the Confucian system of mutual social obligations limited the prerogatives of the elite and provided a basis for claims against the elite by commoners. Third, it called for selecting the elite on the basis of merit, not lineage. The Japanese upper class "wisely" eliminated the first and third elements from the Japanese version of Confucianism and thereby rendered the second problematic.

As a result, the Japanese version of Confucianism came to resemble a form of sage worship in which its detailed system of social obligations became an incontrovertible moral imperative. 10 Behavior became dictated by Confucian ethics rather than guided by them. Mutual obligations were transformed into a unilateral flow of duties to the next higher layer of the socio-political structure. Social harmony (wa) became the justification for an inflexible social structure rather than the goal of social relationships. All in all, Confucianism in the Japanese context joined Shintoism in the disparagement of the needs of the individual and in denying him, and especially her, of any right to resist the demands of a "superior" other.

Buddhism, in contrast, neither subordinates the individual to a higher moral authority nor deprives the individual of choices by entangling him in an intricate web of inflexible social obligations. As we have seen, in Buddhism moral authority emanates from within. Personal development is not the result of a faithful rendering of the will of a heavenly or earthly King, but of intense and continual self-examination. The purpose of this self-examination is to draw upon the just nature (Buddhahood) within us all, and not to remold our character in the name of collective harmony. In Buddhism, the "attainment of Nirvana is everyone's Ultimate Good, and the good of each single person is always more important than any good of any putative whole or collective." 11 Thus the central concern of all socio-political constructs is providing an environment in which the just nature of each individual can be fully explored and expressed.

The emphasis in Buddhism on the development of the individual must not, however, be confused in any way with apathy towards the plight of others or extreme individualism. Such confusion again arises from a failure to overcome the illusion of the duality of self and other. Acknowledgement of the nonself involves first seeing that our present existence is characterized by impermanence and suffering, and second by accepting that in a wink of an eye the comfortable can become the destitute. Recognition of this reality dissipates the difference between self and other through empathy and compassion, and perhaps, even a degree of self-interest. The concept of Karma is also relevant here in that a concern for moral justice links the development of self with the development of others. We should further recall that the enlightened ones will traverse Nirvana and become what we today refer to as activists. Therefore, while the freedom of the individual to pursue self-enlightenment is imperative, ultimate freedom is reflected in the enlightened individual's unabiding concern for the plight of others.

To summarize, Buddhism rejects the fixation on one's duties to others found in Shintoism and Confucianism, and the fixation on unrestrained self-interest (licence) often found in Western individualism. For Buddhists, these conflicting positions, that are derived from the illusion of the duality of self and other, account for most of the suffering in the world. The duality of self and other, it is argued, naturally leads to zero-sum calculations which are worked out in an intense and often violent confrontation. Thus, only through an awakening to the nonself can a people be spared the suffering inflicted by the excesses of individualism and collectivism/statism.

These elements of Buddhism clearly place it in conflict with the type of nationalistic appeals heard in the 1930s calling for total subordination of the needs of the individual to those of the Japanese state. For many Buddhists, that period is a cruel reminder of the fact that "societies cease to be truly human when they cease to acknowledge that each individual's fulfillment is the purpose of the whole." 12 Today, the calls for a return to the spirit of Yamamoto blaring from the sound trucks of the political right on the streets of Japan are further reminders to Buddhists of the importance of protecting those traditional and new socio-political constructs that elevate "reason over authority and individual freedom over hierarchy." 13


According to the Agganna Sutta, prior to the period of devolution in which we now exist, there was a period of general tranquility, happiness, and prosperity. 14 However, primarily as a result of a transformation of common property into private property, there arose lying, stealing, and other "immoral" acts. In response, the people elected a King. The authority of the King was limited and focused on the task of maintaining law and order.

While the King was not viewed as a religious leader or as a vehicle for the propagation of Buddhism, his actions did have religious overtones. The King was expected to carry out his primary task in a way that would not impinge on the conditions necessary for individual religious enlightenment. Additionally, the King was expected to exemplify the ethical principles of Buddhism in his personal behavior. Accordingly, the good King was one who divided his time between administration and self-enlightenment. The King's neglect of his own self-enlightenment was seen as the cause, in turn, of the King's unjustified quest for additional power, an increase in political violence, and severe deterioration in the conditions necessary for spiritual advancement for one and all.

This view of the flow of moral corruption as proceeding from the top to the bottom of the socio-political hierarchy is common in Buddhism. Here its significance is threefold. First, it reflects a healthy aversion to high concentrations of power in all socio-political structures. Second, it provides a basis for a change in leadership at the top to deal with persistent social problems. Third, it directly links the prospects of self-enlightenment with the nature of the existing political order. Together these attitudes naturally led Buddhists to take the activities of the state very seriously.

The enlightened ruler need not fear being deposed if he cultivates the traits of integrity, self-control, forbearance, generosity, gentleness, selflessness, nonobstinacy, and nonviolence. 15 The last two traits deserve special note. In Buddhism nonobstinacy refers to more than flexibility; it also means that the King will listen carefully to the wishes of the people. Just as this is to be a government by the people, it is also to be a government for the people. It is less clear that it necessarily must be a government of the people. Yet, it is hard to see how it could in practice be otherwise and still fulfill the requirements of promoting the conditions necessary for self-enlightenment in keeping with the wishes of the people. Thus, while Buddhism is explicitly supportive of only two of the three components of contemporary democratic theory, it is compatible with all three.

The notion of a ruler committed to nonviolence may seem a little idealistic to many of us. Yet, it is not in Buddhism because the enlightened King will reject the duality of the people and the state. He will recognize that the welfare of the state lies in the welfare of the people and that the will of the people is the will of the state. In so doing, the state will be faced with few cases in which force will be necessary to gain public compliance with its edicts, and the people will find it unnecessary to resist a repressive state with force. Theoretically, such a highly unified nation-state would also not be a likely target of violence from without. Thus, it is not unrealistic for a Buddhist to proclaim that "the goals of the state are peace, happiness, and respect for life, and power [physical force] is inherently incompatible with these objectives." 16

The above is intimately tied to the presumption on the part of Buddhism of the inherent rationality of man. Buddhism, therefore, holds that there is no dispute that cannot be settled in a peaceful and amenable way through appeals to reason; "any other approach will result, not in the resolution of problems, but in the brutalization of humanity." 17 This perspective commits Buddhism to the creation of fair and reasonable conflict resolution mechanisms, including a widely accepted legal code and judicial procedure. The use of the judicial system in civil matters is, of course, not to be substituted for person-to-person negotiations except when absolutely necessary.

The resulting legal-penal system, like the state itself, is to be nonviolent in nature. Buddhism rejects not only the death penalty, but also the repressive forms of punishment and internment that still characterize many modern states, including many democracies. It calls for a legal-penal system guided not by the quest for revenge, but by the desire to rehabilitate the offender. Given the Buddha nature that supposedly lies within us all, the possibility of rehabilitating even those that appear incorrigible is considered to always exist. In fact, incorrigibility is often seen by Buddhists as the result of persistent mistreatment of the offender by the legal-penal system. "Nothing [from the Buddhist perspective] can produce more pernicious effects on criminals than to treat them as if they were a different sort of people and confirm them in their conviction that they are bad-natured." 18

Thus we find in Buddhism the origins of the state in a type of social contract; a partial separation of church and state, an expectation that the power of the state and its use of coercion will be limited, an acceptance of only rational and peaceful means of conflict resolution such as a modern legal system, and a call for the just treatment of the accused and the convicted.


The attainment of Nirvana requires a great deal of mental clarity and concentration. An individual preoccupied with physical survival will find it difficult to display these traits. In short, poverty hinders self-enlightenment and must be removed in some manner. But who is to assume responsibility for providing Buddhism's Four Requisites of food, clothing, shelter, and medicine? In Buddhism the initial responsibility for satisfying basic human needs, of course, always resides with the individual. In this regard, the work ethic of Buddhism is comparable with that of Protestantism.

Yet, Buddhism's recognition of the interrelatedness of all economic activity also places some of the responsibility in the hands of employers and the state. The good Buddhist employer "should serve his employees in five ways: he should assign them work in proportion to their strength; he should give them due food and wages; he should care for them in sickness; he should share especially tasty luxuries with them; and he should give them holidays at due intervals." 19 For the employer to do anything less threatens the quality of life of the employee materially and spiritually, and demonstrates the unenlightened nature of the employer.

Buddhism envisions the state's economic responsibilities to be primarily in the area of social security programs that "cause the blind, the sick, the humble, the unprotected, the destitute, and the crippled, all equally to attain food and drink without omission." 20 It seems that a limited version of the modern welfare state is a very old idea. If, however, there existed a widespread failure of employees and/or employers to fulfill their mutual economic-religious obligations, Buddhism would appear to be open to a significant expansion of the state's economic responsibilities on a scale comparable to that proposed by many contemporary social democrats. 21

Buddhism's concern for the working poor and those with disabilities should not be taken as a condemnation of the wealthy. It is not the possession of wealth that is to be avoided, but rather being possessed by wealth. A Buddhist society can be wealthy, but a society absorbed in the accumulation of wealth cannot be truly Buddhist. What is critical here is that the wealth was not obtained through any of the proscribed occupations and that excess wealth is used in a manner that is beneficial to others. Voluntary contributions of surplus wealth to maximize the availability of the Four Requisites and other essential public services and public goods is, in fact, expected because it is a natural reflection of the wealthy person's quest for self-enlightenment and the related desire to aid others in their quest.

While Buddhism supports economic development on a scale that frees the masses from the struggle for survival, it does not favor economic growth unrestrained by ethical considerations. The bottom line alone, for example, is never sufficient justification for actions that in the short or long run threaten the health of others through the introduction of toxic substances into the environment. Buddhism draws no distinction between pollution of the environment and adding a little rat poison to your boss's coffee each morning. Both acts knowingly threaten the quality of life of another and their potential to achieve self-enlightenment.

This concern for maximizing the opportunity of one and all to achieve self-enlightenment, as we have already seen, extends to future generations. Thus, unrestrained use of the earth's resources can amount to depriving the not yet born of the opportunity for self-enlightenment. While the living have the right to a comfortable standard of living, they should not acquire it by stealing it from the next generation. In sum, just as Buddhism calls upon man to treat his fellow man in a nonviolent manner, it calls upon humanity to also treat nature in a nonviolent manner. 22


As a negation of Brahmanism, Buddhism rejected the caste system of India. Given the intimate relationship among race, occupation, and caste in early India, Buddhism naturally opposed all socio-political hierarchies based on one's economic class and/or the color of one's skin. As a minority religion, it also opposed discrimination on the basis of one's religious orientation. Less well-known is Buddhism's early rejection of discrimination on the basis of gender. 23

The early sutras reconstruct a previous golden era that was devoid of distinctions based on gender. The image of Buddha presented in these sutras is usually androgynous in nature. Even when these images tend to take on a gender-specific character, there is no clear cut inference that one gender is superior to the other. It is especially worth noting that in these early sutras there is, in contrast to Christianity, no association of the devolution of man with the female gender. Therefore, it was quite natural that the early Buddhist religious communities openly welcomed women.

With the passage of time, however, the concern for gender equality seems to have faded, but was never entirely lost. The Buddhist community began to increasingly focus on the difficulty of women achieving self-enlightenment because of their procreative functions. Later sutras appear to suggest that a woman might have to be reborn as a man before being able to attain Nirvana. Yet, at no time did Buddhism come to deny the potential of women, even as women, to reach enlightenment. It never entirely lost sight of its original premise that the nature of Buddha was equally a part of both genders. Even in Japan, where the native Shintoism precluded women from the priesthood because of their natural impurity, the Buddhist priesthood was never entirely closed to women. Neither should we overlook the fact that it was Buddhism that shook the religious community of early Japan with its acceptance of married priests, nor forget that it was Buddhist temples that first provided a refuge for battered Japanese women.

Given the relative equality accorded women in Buddhism, its contact with Confucianism and later Shintoism was less than congenial. Whereas the latter two clearly set men above women in all walks of life and emphasized the duties of the women in the family to the eldest male, be that her husband, son, or brother, Buddhism did not. Within the family, the responsibilities of the male members to the female members received special attention in Buddhism. Husbands were reminded, for example, that their wives were to be considered their best friends. This friendship depended on, among other things, the man being faithful and abandoning the notion of being the supreme authority. Outside the family, a Buddhist was to treat women with the same respect and kindness that one would show to a member of one's own family.

Today, as in the past, the issue of gender equality often focuses on the question of reproductive freedom and a woman's right to an abortion. Prior to the Occupation, abortion was illegal and the state, at times, actively called upon the patriotic women of Japan to bear more children. The present policy of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is not much different from that of pre-occupation Japan. The LDP has long opposed most forms of female contraception, sought to impose additional restrictions on abortion, and continues to decry the declining size of the Japanese family.

Buddhism has historically taken a relatively liberal position on the question of reproductive freedom, in general, and abortion in particular. Buddhists recognize that as the size of the family increases so does the prospect of a deterioration in the quality of life for all members of the family. In other words, there would be a significant reduction in the opportunity of each of the family members to achieve Nirvana. Accordingly, Buddhists tend to view abortion as a "necessary 'safety valve' to endure familial, societal, and national strength." 24 They would not favor a return to a legal system that deprived women of what little control they now have over their reproductive functions.

The above emphasis on gender equality and reciprocity in male-female relationships suggests a general congruence between Buddhism and modern day feminism. 25 Both the Buddhist and the feminist desire an evolution away from attitudes and structures based on the presumption of fundamental differences between men and women. Both reject that this evolution should be in the direction of the masculine model. Both argue that the new model should include the trait of compassion and that it should not be associated with weakness. The only significant difference between Buddhism and feminism appears in the emphasis of the former on self-enlightenment and the latter on structural transformation.


As we have seen, the quest for Nirvana is by its very nature a highly individualized process. No two individuals will travel the same path to self-enlightenment. Yet, we have also seen that certain conditions are much more conducive to the attainment of Nirvana than others. These conditions that we have emphasized deal directly with the interrelationships among the individual's inner self, the rest of humanity, and nature, rather than the individual's relationship with some deity.

In the total absence of divine intervention, it is imperative that each individual, in cooperation with others, assumes full responsibility for creating and maintaining those conditions that maximize the prospects for reaching Nirvana. This cooperation will take innumerable forms. Among the most encompassing and formal forms of cooperation will be the political system. In carrying out its functions, this political system must avoid, at all costs, deteriorating into a secular or religious tyranny of the majority. Theoretically, Buddhism's aversion to dogma and its recognition of no higher good than the enlightenment of a single individual would check such tendencies. Practically speaking, however, there would be a need to provide each individual with officially recognized trumps against potential abuses of power, in short, a bill of rights.

Drawing upon our earlier analysis, we can quickly assemble the central components of a bill of rights consistent with Buddhism. 26 Each of these rights, in keeping with Buddhism, is conceived as inherent in each and every individual and thus inalienable.

1. Freedom to select the government

2. Right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and to receive just compensation

3. Freedom from cruel and unusual punishment such as torture, the death penalty, and inhuman internment

4. Right to equal and fair treatment under the law

5. Freedom of religion and conscience

6. Freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, creed, economic class, or gender

7. Right to education

8. Right to work and receive just compensation including health care

9. Freedom from want for those unable to work through social security programs

10. Right to a clean environment

The similarity of the first six rights to those contained in the constitution of Japan is striking. Equally striking is the compatibility of the latter four rights with the prevailing expectations of the Japanese public, and existing Japanese public policy.


It would seem that the speed with which the vast majority of Japanese embraced the principles of popular sovereignty and individual rights contained in the "Occupation Constitution" can in no small part be explained by the latent support inherent in Buddhism. And as long as Buddhism continues to be a vibrant part of Japanese culture, Japanese society will never wander far from the recognition that compassion; self-enlightenment; and effective protection of fundamental social, economic, and political rights are co-requisites.


1. For an examination of the Occupation reforms, see DEMOCRATIZING JAPAN: THE ALLIED OCCUPATION (Robert E. Ward & Sakamoto Yoshikazu eds., 1987).

2. The most frequently voiced demands for revision of the 1947 constitution include returning the Emperor to his rightful place at the top of Japan's socio-political structure, reinstating the household as the basic unit of society, and eliminating the restrictions imposed on the Japanese military by Article 9.

3. Mahayana Buddhism was introduced to the Japanese by an envoy from the Korean Kingdom of Paekche in 538 A.D. Today there are five major sects in Japan: Tendai, Kegon, Shingon, Jodo, and Zen. The differences among them are generally limited to the importance of particular sutras and the value of invocations.


5. See, e.g., Lily de Silva, The Scope and Contemporary Significance of the Five Precepts, in BUDDHIST ETHICS AND MODERN SOCIETY 143-57 (Charles W. Fu & Sandra A. Wawrytko ed., 1991).

6. See, e.g., Frederic L. Pryor, A Buddhist Economic System in Practice, 50 AM. J. ECON. & SOC. 18-19 (1991).

7. See, e.g., MASAO ABE, ZEN AND WESTERN THOUGHT 92 (1985).

8. Id. at 49.

9. For a summary of the twelvefold chain of causation, see, for example, YOSHINORI TAKEUCHI, THE HEART OF BUDDHISM: IN SEARCH OF THE TIMELESS SPIRIT OF PRIMITIVE BUDDHISM 83 (1991).

10. The impact of sage worship in the context of China is discussed in Zehua Liu & Quan Ge, On the "Human" in Confucianism, 26 JOURNAL OF ECUMENICAL STUDIES 313-35 (1989).

11. Robert A. F. Thurman, Guidelines for Buddhist Social Activism Based on Nagarjuna's Jewel Garland of Royal Counsels, 16 THE EASTERN BUDDHIST 35 (1983).

12. Robert A. F. Thurman, Social and Cultural Rights in Buddhism, in HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE WORLD'S RELIGIONS 153 (Leroy S. Rouner ed., 1988).

13. Id. at 155.

14. See, e.g., Frederic L. Pryor, A Buddhist Economic System in Principle, 49 AM. J. ECON. & SOC. 344 (1990).

15. See, e.g., de Silva, supra note 5, at 148.


17. P. Don Presmasiri, The Relevance of the Noble Eightfold Path to Contemporary Society, in BUDDHIST ETHICS AND MODERN SOCIETY, supra note 5, at 135.


19. Prabha Chopra, Contribution of Buddhism to Human Rights and Status of Women, in CONTRIBUTION OF BUDDHISM TO WORLD CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE 127 (P.N. Chopra ed., 1983).

20. Thurman, supra note 11, at 48.

21. For a fuller discussion of this comparison see NIKUNJA V. BANERJEE, BUDDHISM AND MARXISM: A STUDY IN HUMANISM (1978).

22. de Silva, supra note 15, at 147.


24. William R. LaFleur, Contestation and consensus: The Morality of Abortion in Japan, 40 PHIL. EAST AND WEST 538 (1990).

25. See, e.g., Rita M. Gross, Buddhism and Feminism: Toward Their Mutual Transformation, 19 THE EASTERN BUDDHIST 44-58 (1986).

26. See Yougindra Khushalani, Human Rights in Asia and Africa, 4 HUM. RTS. L.J. 406 (1983) for a discussion of the Five Freedoms and Five Virtues that partly parallel this list.