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Islam in Japan in 5 Questions

Translator: Zeynep Öncül

Let’s talk about the famous Land of the Rising Sun. Best known for its samurais, sumo wrestlers and advanced technology, Japan sure is an interesting place to explore. Enjoy learning about Islam in Japan!

How large is the Muslim population in Japan?

There are approximately 100.000 Muslims living in Japan. It is assumed that around 10.000 of these Muslims are Japanese, and the rest belongs to different nationalities.

How and when did Islam arrive in Japan?

After the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 Kazan and Tatar Muslims immigrated to Japan. Tatar Muslims are the first Muslim group in Japan. However, due to their post-war psychological conditions, Islam was only practised in private. The spread of Islam as a religion happened after years of studies and efforts of individuals.

What are some popular mosques of Japan?

The most popular mosques in Japan are the Tokyo Mosque and the Kobe Mosque, which is also known as the oldest mosque in Japan. There are a lot of smaller mosques and Islamic centres in different regions of Japan, which together sum up to 51 Islamic institutions. The construction of the Tokyo Mosque was supported by the Turkish government. In recent years this mosque also became an important factor for many Japanese to get to know Islam better.

Who are the most significant Islamic figures in the country?

On top of the most famous scholars in Japan who worked on Islamic studies is Aburreshid Ibrahim. Aburreshid Ibrahim who belongs to the Kazan Turks did important work introducing and spreading Islam in Japan. The formal recognition of Islam in Japan in 1939 was one of his most important achievements. Regarding Islam in Japan, there is another important person whom many people in Japan benefitted from. It is Izutsu Toshihiko who translated the Quran into the Japanese language.

What are the challenges Muslims face in Japan?

The biggest issue for Muslims in the country is to find halal food and places of worship. Because of the food habits and exceeding consumption of alcohol in Japan it is very difficult to bring together the two cultures. Although there are various mosques and Islamic centres in the region, their numbers fall short for daily worship. Especially the Friday prayer remains a problem for employees. Another problem Muslims in Japan struggle with is the lack of access to Islamic education.

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