Post-World War II

Islam in Japan At Post-World War II

[ Mosque in Kobe, Japan (Image) ]

In the 1970s, another "Islamic Boom" was set in motion, this time in the shade of "Arab Boom" after the 1973 oil crisis. After realizing the importance of the Middle East and its massive oil reserves for the Japanese economy, the Japanese mass media have since been giving big publicity to the Muslim World in general and the Arab World in particular.

The Turks have been the biggest Muslim community in Japan until recently. Pre-war Japan was well known for its sympathy and favour towards Muslims in Central Asia, seeing in them an anti-Soviet ally. In those days some Japanese who worked in intelligence circles had contact with these Muslims. A few converted to Islam through these contacts, and embraced it after the war ended.

The Japanese invasion of China and South East Asian regions during the Second World War brought the Japanese in contact with Muslims. Those who embraced Islam through them returned to Japan and established in 1953, the first Japanese Muslim organisation, the Japan Muslim Association under the leadership of Sadiq Imaizumi. Its members, numbering sixty five at the time of inauguration, increased twofold before he died six years later.

The second president of the association was the Umar Mita. Mita was typical of the old generation, who learned Islam in the territories occupied by the Japanese Empire. He was working for the Manshu Railway Company, which virtually controlled the Japanese territory in the north eastern province of China at that time. Through his contacts with Chinese Muslims, he became a Muslim in Peking. When he returned to Japan after the war, he made the Hajj, the first Japanese in the post-war period to do so. He also made a Japanese translation of the meaning of the Qur'an from a Muslim perspective for the first time. Aljazeera also did a documentary regarding Islam and Japan called "Road to Hajj - Japan".
Though many Islamic organisations were established since the 1900s, each of them had only very few active members.

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