World Bulletin/News Desk
Tokyo Camii, or the Tokyo Mosque, is a curious sight, both stunning and subtle. Despite the grand Turkish design, the mosque hides between apartment blocks in the quiet residential neighbourhood of Yoyogi Uehara.
Samee Siddiqui from Al Jazeera reported the rich Muslim culture in Japan in recent post. According to the report, construction of the current incarnation of the mosque was completed in 2000, but the mosque has a much longer history. It was in the 1930s when Japan first saw a significant resident Muslim population and the first mosques were established. The Nagoya Mosque was built in 1931 and the Kobe Mosque in 1935 by Indian-Muslim migrants.
Tatar Muslim migrants escaping the Russian revolution made up the largest ethnic group in Japan by the 1930s and established the original Tokyo Mosque in 1938.
While the Tokyo Camii does not have the same support and contacts with Japanese government and large conglomerates in contemporary times, the mosque was rebuilt using funds from the Turkish government and is both a religious venue and an ethno-cultural space hosting wedding ceremonies, fashion shows, plays, exhibitions and conferences.
The Yuai International School in the Mosque is currently offering Saturday classes ranging from Islamic studies and Arabic, to karate and calligraphy.
The school is run by the Islamic Centre of Japan (ICJ), a post-WWII Muslim institution established in 1966.
In the absence of official statistics on Muslims in Japan, demographic estimates range from between 70,000 to 120,000 Muslim residents with about 10 percent of that number being Japanese, in a country with an overall population of more than 127 million, according to the report.
Some researchers have highlighted negative stereotypes of Islam that Muslims have been confronted with in Japan since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
Despite the Tokyo Metropolitan Police being absolved of any wrongdoing by the Tokyo District Court in January, the UN Human Rights Committee has expressed concerns in a recent report about the systematic surveillance of Muslims and mosques in Japan.
While Islam may not have the same footprint in Japan as other religions such as Buddhism and Christianity, knowledge of it and the Prophet Muhammad here can be traced back to the 8th century.
Serious and sustained engagement with the Muslim world began for Japan as a part of its global outreach in the early Meiji period (1868-1890), with trade and information gathering missions sailing towards the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East.
Verifiable accounts of Muslims entering Japan can be placed in the same period with records of Indian merchants and Malay-Indian sailors working in ports in the Japanese cities of Yokohama and Kobe.
Last Mod: 03 Kasım 2014, 14:21