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Pan-Asianism's Religious Undercurrents: The Reception of Islam and Translation of the Qur'ān in Twentieth-Century Japan

  • Hans Martin Krämer
Abstract

Recent scholarship has highlighted the importance of Islam for prewar Japanese pan-Asianists. Yet, by considering Islam solely as a political factor, this strand of scholarship has largely overlooked the religious dimension of Japanese pan-Asianism. The existence of six different complete translations of the Qur'ān into Japanese, however, amply bespeaks a genuinely religious interest in Islam, an impression that is corroborated by a look at the sociopolitical contexts of the translations and the biographical backgrounds of the translators. While explicitly anti-modern, anti-Western, and anti-Christian notions were at work in these broadly pan-Asianist Japanese appropriations of Islam, an analysis of the terminology used in the translations shows that, ironically, Christian precedents were not easily overcome.

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