Japanese religious beliefs are predominantly Buddhism, Shintoism, and Confucianism and health care for the Japanese has traditionally been defined according to these beliefs. Today, the Japanese have assimilated both Eastern and Western medical belief systems, revealing a very diverse culture with regard to health care workers and practices. This paper will illustrate how various religious beliefs influence Japanese health care.
Shintoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism are the predominant religions of the Japanese. However, according to Purnell (2013), "Most Japanese do not identify themselves solely with one religion; even a baptized Christian might have a Shinto wedding and a Buddhist funeral" (p. 332). All Japanese are born into Shinto and the vast majority practice it. Shinto is based on the belief that gods are represented in our natural landscape and emphasizes the divineness of nature. For Shintoists, all living things are considered divine and are worthy of respect and care. In contrast to Shinto, Buddhism is not indigenous to Japan and was brought during the sixth century from China. While Shinto focuses on nature, Buddhism emphasizes ethical and moral principles. Additionally, Buddhism introduced reincarnation to the culture and taught the importance of people to living a life of purity, devoting oneself to country and family, and working hard in an effort to join those ancestors that had departed (Purnell, 2013). The core beliefs of Confucianism, which was brought to Japan during the ninth century, from China, are the codes of ethics that dictate social values and political order in Japan. Confucianism focused on moderation, loyalty, and reciprocity. According to Purnell (2013), "Confucian values, including faith in education, hard work, and the emphasis on interpersonal relationships and loyalty, continue to be important today" (p.