From Karuto or “Cult” to the Mainstream: The Reconstruction of Public Images by a Japanese Religious Group

  • Author / Creator
    Miyamoto, Tomoka
  • Aum Shinrikyo, a religious sect generally seen as a karuto or “cult” in Japanese society, carried out sarin gas attacks in 1995. Today, a successor group called Aleph has successfully recruited numerous converts, despite the negative profile of Aum in the Japanese media. This study seeks to understand this phenomenon. It first investigates Japanese public representations of new religious movements. Then, it examines discourses presented by Aleph on its official website and studies its recruitment strategies, paying attention to its use of symbols and images. It finds that Aleph highlights certain cultural themes that have meaning and value to many Japanese people, which contrasts with the hostile public depictions of Aum and other such groups. In particular, I argue that Aleph’s use of symbols and images plays a significant role in the recent, rapid increase of new converts because the symbols and images rehabilitate its reputation in the Japanese public.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Japanese Language and Linguistics
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Nedashkivska, Alla (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
    • Dunch, Ryan (East Asian Studies)