The principal religious faiths of Japan are SHINTO a cult based on ancestor and nature worship, with about 200 sects and denominations, and BUDDHISM with at least as many sects and denominations. Christianity—represented in Japan by the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Greek Orthodox faiths—is practiced by less than 4% of the population. Virtually all the Japanese, with the exception of the Christians, are regarded as being Shintoists, and the majority of the Shintoists are also Buddhists. In the latter half of the 19th century Shinto was made a state religion, stressing worship of the emperor as a divinity and the racial superiority of the Japanese; all Japanese, regardless of their religious affiliation, were forced to worship at Shinto shrines. In 1946 the Allied occupation authorities ordered Shinto disestablished and reduced it to the level of a sect. On Jan. 1, 1946, Emperor Hirohito renounced all claim to divinity. The constitution promulgated in 1947 reestablished absolute freedom of religion and ended state support of Shinto.

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