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Home » 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices » Modern and Contemporary
§Modern and Contemporary Systems and Institutions: An Overview
The Restoration government used the so-called Shinbutsu hanzen rei of 1868 to articulate its policy of separating Buddhism and Shintō, and thus end the practise of Shintō and Buddhist amalgamation (shinbutsu shūgō). In 1871, the government then issued legislation defining shrines as "sites for the performance of state ritual" and abolishing the practice of control of shrines by hereditary priest families (shake). In what was a decisive step toward the construction of a modern shrine ranking system, shrines were placed in the "major," "medium" or "minor" sub-categories of state shrines (see kankokuheisha). At the same, the second decade of Meiji (the 1880s) saw the setting up of a legal framework for dealing with the steadily proliferating phenomenon of Shintō-derived religious movements. From early Meiji through the period of the Ministry of Religious Education (Kyōbushō) (1872-7), a "national cultivation movement" was conducted that was first headed by Shintōists and scholars of Kokugaku, and then run jointly by Shintō and Buddhist institutions. The Ministry of Religious Education was soon abandoned following protests from Shinshū Buddhists and, at the start of the second decade of the Meiji period, the government adopted a new approach toward the newly emerged Shintō sects. It involved granting to them a certain conditional autonomy.
       During the same period, the government made considerable progress with the shrine system and clarified its intention to enforce a separation between Shintō rites, Shintō teachings, and Shintō research. In other words, shrines were identified as the sites for state ritual while Shintō sects were classified as religious groups responsible for teachings so that, in 1883, nine sects enjoyed government sanction. Eventually, the nine became thirteen. Also in 1883, the Kōten kōkyūjo (the predecessor of today's Kokugakuin University) was created in Tokyo as a research facility dedicated to the academic study of Shintō. As shrine supervision was entrusted to government bureaucracts, the early twentieth century also saw destructive measures aimed at shrines, such as the so-called shrine mergers (jinja gōshi).
       After the abolition of the Ministry of Religious Education, shrines were placed under the jurisdiction of the Bureau for Shrines and Temples within the Home ministry (Naimushō). In 1900, however, that bureau was fragmented: a new Shrine Bureau (Jinjakyoku) took charge of the nation's shrines, while the Religions Bureau (Shūkyōkyoku) oversaw the affairs of all other religious organizations. Thereafter, there occurred several changes in bureau nomenclature but the bureaucratic distinction between shrines and other religious institutions remained until the end of World War II. With regard to the legal dimension, it had been practice to issue orders and regulations as and when called for but, from the middle of the Meiji period, there were calls for a comprehensive religious law. Drafts were debated in the Diet but campaigners had to wait till the promulgation of the Shūkyō Dantaihō (Religious Organizations Law) of 1939.
       After the Pacific war, Shintō institutions and their administration were subject to radical change. With the Shintō shirei (Shintō Directive) issued by GHQ, state supervision of shrines ended. The new guiding principle was the separation of state and religion and all religious organizations, including Shintō, were under the Shūkyō Hōjinrei (Religious Corporations Ordinance) of 1945. Six years on, the Shūkyō Hōjinhō (Religious Corporations Law) was promulgated and remains the legal framework to the present day. In response to this new set of circumstances the Shintō world sponsored in 1946 the creation of the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja honchō), an umbrella organization for the majority of shrines. As for the majority of Shintō sects, their sense of "Shintō" identity diluted rapidly in the post war period. The majority split and re-constituted themselves as autonomous churches.
       The Jinja honchō took charge of Shintō priests' training and oversaw the creation of training courses at first Kokugakuin and then Kōgakkan universities. Additionally, shrines such as Atsuta Jingū and Izumo Taisha set up their set up their own training institutes (see also Training Facilities for Shrine Priests).

— Inoue Nobutaka
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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