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Japanese New Religions and the Internet: A Case Study

Issue: Vol 23 No. 3 (2010) New Virtual Frontiers: Religion and Spirituality in Cyberspace

Journal: Journal for the Academic Study of Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Buddhist Studies Islamic Studies Biblical Studies

DOI: 10.1558/arsr.v23i3.255


Kōfuku no Kagaku was founded in 1986 by Ōkawa Ryūhō and it remains one of the most interesting of the Japanese new religious movements in terms of its use of media. However, until December 2004, the only official Japanese website of the group was that of its publishing house. This paper discusses why a group whose success was, from the beginning, connected to an extensive use of mass media decided to open its official website quite late in its lifespan, if we compare it to other religious groups in Japan. Their reluctance to use the Internet seems to be in contradiction with the media strategies of the group. This paper seeks to answer some crucial questions that arise from this contradiction. Could the delay in the creation of a website be related to the risk of members being exposed to online criticism? Is the lack of images of the leader on the Internet a consequence of a new image strategy?

Author: Erica Baffelli

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