Monday, August 13, 2007

Islam in the Land of the Rising Sun

Kobe mosqueThe photo at the right depicts a mosque in Kobe, Japan.

You didn’t think there were any Muslims to speak of in Japan? Neither did I. I could imagine a small community around the embassies of Islamic countries, and some Muslim businessman, but not much more among the famously insular Japanese.

But Islam in Japan is more substantial than that, and goes back many years, to before the Second World War.

I discovered these facts after reading yesterday’s article about the Hizb ut-Tahrir rally in Jakarta. The following caught my attention:

The freedom of expression that Muslims enjoy in Indonesia is a luxury compared to most other countries, said Hassan Ko Nakata of the Japanese Muslim Association.

That made me search for information on the Japanese Muslim Association, and led me to various web sources about Islam in Japan. According to the International Religious Freedom Report (pdf format) issued in 2005 by the State Department:

A small segment of the population, predominantly among foreign-born residents, attends Jewish or Islamic services. The Japanese Muslim Association reports there are roughly 100,000 Muslims in the country of whom 10,000 are citizens.

Other sources give somewhat different numbers. Most of the Muslims depicted in the various group photos I came across were of a Middle Eastern appearance, although quite a few of them appeared to be ethnic Japanese.

The most interesting account of Japanese Muslims came from an article published last year in Asharq Al-Awsat about an event in Saudi Arabia:

Dr. Satoro Nakamura spoke to an audience of intellectuals last week about Islam in Japan as part of the 6th annual al Qatif cultural forum. He said that the first accounts of Arabs and Islam in Japanese were written by Arai Hakuseki and that the first Japanese Muslim who converted whilst on a visit Turkey was Torajiro Yamada. Bumpachiro Ariga also converted to Islam under the influence of local Muslims when he went to Bombay for trading purposes.

The first mosque in Japan was built in 1931 in the city of Nagoya and, with the help of Muslim refugees from Asia, another mosque was built in Kobe in 1935. It remains standing today. The lecturer also said that Islamic associations were formed prior to WWII and a Japanese Muslim Association was established after the conflict ended. It sent a number of student to al Azhar in Egypt, between 1957 and 1965, and to the Persian Gulf in the 1970s, as well as Malaysia and Indonesia.
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With the 1970s dominated by a global oil crisis, Arabic began to be taught across Japan and a number of Japanese women married foreign Muslim businessmen who were attracted by the country’s booming economy in the 1980s.

Nakamura indicated that Muslims in Japan faced two main problems, a lack of education and burial grounds. He also pointed out that the Saudi government had founded the Institute for Arab and Islamic studies in 1983, which is affiliated with the Imam Mohammed Ibn Saudi University.


Islam is taught in Japanese schools from a historical perspective, but students needed to understand contemporary political issues better, Nakamura said. An estimated 70 thousand Muslims lived in Japan, according to statistics compiled in 2005, and worshiped in more than 15 mosques and 16 prayer rooms. The largest community of Muslims resides in Kobe.

The issue of burial grounds is an important one. The plots of land where Muslims are buried are considered to be waqf, or religiously endowed property. As we have seen with the issue of the Taj Mahal and many other sites in India, Muslim cemeteries become issues of bitter contention, with local Waqf Boards fighting via all possible legal means to gain control over the real estate involved and declare it part of the Ummah.

Whether waqf is an issue in Japan is not clear, but it’s interesting that the subject is being mentioned.

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There are countries in the world in which virtually no Christians, or Jews, or Hindus, or Buddhists can be found — all of them Islamic countries.

But are there any countries in which there are no Muslims? Greenland, maybe? Antarctica?

Even a country as ethnically homogeneous as Japan has a Muslim Association.

It seems that the inclusive tolerance extended to Islam is a one-way street, and is never reciprocated. We welcome them into our midst, but we are never welcomed into theirs.

The infidel is to be suffered only until the opportunity arises to change his status.


ziontruth said...

So Japan too, one day, will have to choose between bushido and seppuku.

kepiblanc said...

A nitty-gritty comment, Baron: Greenland is part of Denmark and Antarctica isn't a country either. I would place my bet on the Vatican or maybe Fiji.

Unknown said...

waqf? bulshit, nothing that a bulldozer cannot handle within a few hours.

Unknown said...

In the antipods of Mecca. Any position they put themselves they will be defecating towards Mecca.

We should make them fear be buried in Europe an get buried in islamic countries. A buldozer in a cemetery, dung-water from pork breeding, there must have something to achieve that.

falcon_01 said...

Zionist Youngster is right. Hopefully they wake up soon and kick them all out before it's too late and the plague spreads!

Geraldo- I like your train of thought. Not unlike keeping garlic to ward off vampires- Remember to lay strips of bacon across all entry points! LOL

History Snark said...

Last time I was in Dearbornistan, I noticed among all the businesses with arabic writing a couple of funeral homes, all promising cheap rates for returning bodies to the Mideast.

Too bad we can't put up signs "cheap rates to ship muslims someplace far away from the civilized world."

Baron Bodissey said...

Kepiblanc --

I was aware of the distinction, and I thought that somebody might show up to nit-pick me about it. :)

(BTW -- Phanarath taught me the Danish word for "nitpick", but I have since forgotten it.)

Greenland might be considered Denmark's Puerto Rico.

I think Fiji has Muslims -- I believe I've blogged on it before, but I could be wrong. Vatican City would be a better bet.

For now, though, Kalaallit Nunaat will just have to do...

npabga said...

Well, I am not surprised. Met a Japanese girl in Turkey who said that she travelled alone through Morocco. Everyday she would get invited for tea and received a marriage proposal. She thought it was funny that these smelly guys thought they were so charming that a girl would say yes after a thirty-minute chat and free tea. She said they were mostly looking to immigrate.

Whiskey said...

The Japanese are brutal and ruthless when their ethnic and cultural identity are threatened. I'm sure at some point Muslims will mistake them for Westerners and do something spectacularly stupid.

A terrorism threat or action would probably lead to the bulldozing of Muslim places of worship, deportation of most Muslims with imprisonment for long terms of troublemakers. This would include citizens.

ziontruth said...


Trouble is, going by Spengler (whose obsession with demographics is equaled only by Mark Steyn's), Japan is suffering from about the same native birthrate freefall as Europe. Here too there isn't much time left.

Unknown said...

They really believe that hell and heaven exists and that if they behave well they will go to heaven and if they not behave well they will go to hell. The th

This is their strength "if they behave well they will go to heaven "
Can we turn this "if they not behave well they will go to hell"into a weakness

Unknown said...

Japan suffers from the same problem but have only one problem.

we now have two problems.

Yorkshireminer said...

A bit of quick maths tells me that there is one muslim to 1,300 Japanese. The Japanese have really got a problem. The Japanese don't take kindly to foreigners trying to influence there society especially if they import foreign religions with them. Ask the Dutch and the Portuguese. When Tokugawa Ieyasu gained ascendancy in the Japanese Civil war somewhere around 1600 he set about clearing out the Catholics and the Jesuits who had supplied guns to his opponents. I think he murdered somewhere in the region of 250,000 Japanese converts and successful band all firearms and closed the country down for 200 years. It was only the black ships of Commander Perry, in I think 1859, that open the country up to outside influence. Even then the Japanese were very selective, very much a pick and mix system they chose the best. They based their navy on the British navy, the Army on the Prussian and the laws on the Swiss if my memory serves me correctly. There are still many catholics in japan but they are very loyal and mind there manners. You can bet your life the Muslims do the same. They do not take in vast no. of refugees and will not. Even though the population is falling, the Japanese population shrank by 30,000 last year and will shrink even more this year they are not under the illusion that you have to import vast hordes of third world muslim savages to work, to pay for the pensions of the aging Japanese population. The Japanese look after the Japanese, if only our politicians had done the same we would not be in the situation we are now. When the Dutch were having a bit of trouble with a revolt on the Island of Banda in Indonesia in 1621, they hired a force of Japanese Samaria to sort it out and sort it out they did, they depopulated the island. I will give you one guess in what direction the former population prayed. The Japanese might kowtow towards Islam because of the oil but they wont turn round at the same time to get shafted like we in the west.

Now concerning countries that don't have muslims. I know for certain that there are no muslims on Pitcairn island. The seventh day adventists got that sewn up in the 19th century. Iceland has been a bit lax lately and let in 800 or there abouts they will learn. Perhaps the Faeroes

kepiblanc said...

Baron, a Danish synonym for 'nitpick' could be 'flueknepperi'. I will certainly not translate that, but it's very appropriate in any discussion concerning Muslims...
And Yorkshireminer, Faroe Islands are Danish too, so no joy. Which leaves us with Vatican City and Pitcairn as the only plague-free countries.

Abu Abdullah said...

Islam has a toehold in Taiwan and Korea as well.

Read this very illuminating article in the Taipei Times, written shortly after 9-11, to get a sense of the Taiwanese situation. The Wahhabi influence and the Arab victimhood mentality comes through very clearly. You can search the newspaper's web site for other news on Islam in Taiwan.

If you're interested in the Korean situation, start digging at Wikipedia.

This infrequently-updated blog is worth checking out as well, to get a broader sense of the situation in the Far East:

Yorkshireminer said...

Dear kepi,
I am fully aware that the Faeroe's are Danish, but then are they? Please correct me if I am wrong, but I always thought that they had a special relationship with the Danish Kingdom on the lines of the Isle of Man and the British Chanel Islands. These are technically independent yet dependent because the United Kingdom has control over foreign policy. Is not the relationship between Denmark and the Faeroes on a similar Basis. Pitcairn Island is certainly not independent it was the only place in the world that I knew for certain was muslim free. It comes under the protection of the British Crown even that gets complicated as it comes under the jurisdiction of the Governor General of New Zealand so it doesn't have its own Governor General like the Falkland Islands.
The Faeroes came to mind because I just could not imagine any muslim wanting to go to the Faeroes in the first place, for the simple reason no one basically has ever heard about the place. Mind you I could be wrong even in the Faeroes flies breed.

Deep regards

Yorkshire Miner

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Profitsbeard said...


I found this out several years ago when the native Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie's work "THE SATANIC VERSES" was assassinated by a local Muslim.

I think there were half a dozen mosques in Tokyo at the time.

I was amazed that the Japanese would want a competing warrior's cult when they have a perfectly adequate version of their own.

And one with a feel for the absurdities of life and a black sense of humor.

Two thing's Islam forcibly lacks, since nothing Allah does can be considered absurd or funny.

Unless you are an infidel.

Then it's everything Allah does.

kepiblanc said...

Yorkshireminer, please look here: Faroe Islands.
The interesting things is that the islands technically are outside the EU, which means that they have a chance of keeping the savages out when - in two years time - yet another wave of countless millions of Muslims start swarming into Europe as a result of the EUROMED. Besides, I seriously doubt that a Muslim would feel comfortable in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, with constant rain and showers, no welfare tit to suck and surrounded be devoted Protestant Christians.

Yorkshireminer said...

Kepi said,

Besides, I seriously doubt that a Muslim would feel comfortable in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, with constant rain and showers, no welfare tit to suck and surrounded be devoted Protestant Christians.

Yes it is as I thought they have the same status as the Channel Islands and the Isle of Mann. What interested me most in the link you posted was the fact that the Plymouth Brethren made up about 10% of the population. There seems to be a thread running through all these North Atlantic fishing communities. Strict protestant sects seem to prosper. The Hebrides have the Wee Frees who wont even sail in a boat with a person if they are not of their sect. Denmark with the Indre Mission with it strong hold among the fishing villages of Aalborg fjord. We mustn't forget the Norwegians on the Loften Islands, I forget the name of their sect but I have heard that they are especially fundamentalist. I wonder why this is? I also think you are right no welfare tit to suck on although I would have no difficulty in banning some of the more obnoxious members of the religion of peace to perhaps the odd island in the North Atlantic preferably Rockall. I gather the view is superb. Check it out and see if you don't think it is suitable.

Deep Regards

Yorkshire Miner

kepiblanc said...

Yorkshireminer, Rockall will be perfect for a Muslim community, but I doubt it could accommodate all the Muslims of Europe. To this end Denmark could contribute a more suitable place: Hans Island. As an added advantage, this island is claimed by Canada - and war is imminent. Quote:"should the Danish imperialism escalate, as withered as Canada’s once strong military arm may be, it is not so weak that it cannot turn back the Viking raiders from our shores.". The problem for the Canucks is they don't have a navy capable of entering those waters, so let's be generous: Once the former European "Ummah" is gathered on Hans Island we will hand it over to Canada for free. Aren't Danes nice people ?

Yorkshireminer said...

Dear kepi,
an excellent choice. The other plus point is that there are no sheep on the island, its too far north, Bestiality is a sport I do not take too kindly too, we must not put temptation in front of our weaker brethren.

Deep regards

Yorkshire Miner.

Unknown said...

There are countries in the world in which virtually no Christians, or Jews, or Hindus, or Buddhists can be found — all of them Islamic countries.

Which countries are you thinking of? The only countries that I can think of that fit that description are Saudi Arabia and North Korea - but even they have underground Christian populations.

comrade_tovarich said...

Before 9/11, I visited the Kobe mosque just to see what one looks like: outside, a bit Islamic; inside, spartan. The imam was a tall burly South Asian with a long beard and accusitive eyes. The two Arab worshippers smiled at us in surprise and got up, which made me more uncomfortable than the hulking imam. Walking through carefully, as though I were in a church, the imam kept mentioning it's just a building not a holy spot so I should feel welcome--Islam's better, he was implying. I was tempted to ask him if I could light up and crap on his floor then, but I didn't.

Kobe has an Indian population of some history. They run many pearl-related businesses and are rather prosperous. My guess is the mosque was built for them.

As for Japan actively protecting its own, it is true that Japan doesn't want a flood of foreigners coming in and has done a decent job in that respect; however, there is plenty of pressure to do away with homogeneity and peace studies are quite the rage. Japanese are not assertive (perhaps I should say, "are no longer assertive"), so I fear Islam will continue to grow. A far greater concern here is the Brazilian population, mainly second-generation Japanese emigrants returning to work and, if TV news is to be believed, bringing crime of all sorts.

What reaches my ears is that most Muslims in Japan are Iranians or Turks. The former are usually not fans of the mullahs and find life in a free country refreshing; the Turks seem to open restaurants with pictures of Ataturk on the walls and marry local girls. Neither group seems predisposed to trashing a good thing.

But that's surely what Europeans used to think.