Introducing the Japanese Association for Religious Studies
The Japanese Association for Religious Studies (JARS) brings together groups and individuals engaged in the academic study of religion with the aim of advancing and disseminating research in the field. Founded in 1930, the JARS numbers around 2,000 members and is the most comprehensive association for religious studies in Japan. The JARS is a member of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR).
A three-day conference is held annually, the venue alternating between the Tokyo metropolitan area and other parts of Japan. The conferences open with a symposium of special lecture, followed by two days of panels and presentations.
Journal of Religious Studies (Shūkyō kenkyū), the official academic journal of the JARS, has been published since 1916. The journal has been reflecting the cutting edge of religious studies, both in the timeliness of its contents and in opening new areas for research. In 2012, the JARS released an online English journal, Religious Studies in Japan, in order to make its members’ research results more accessible worldwide.
The General Assembly of the members, held during the annual conference, is the most important decision-making body of the JARS. The association is overseen by a President, a board of 70 directors (20 of whom serve as managing directors), 170 councilors, and 2 auditors. The term of office is 3 years, renewable. The President, however, may not hold office for consecutive terms and cumulatively for no more than two terms. Managing directors are elected from among the board of directors, and councilors are selected from among the membership at large. Auditors are chosen by election among the councilors.
A number of committees exist to assist the President in matters such as general administration, international relations, informatics and database management, the editing of the journal, and so forth.
Membership includes regular members, supporting members, honorary members, and associate members. Applicants for membership are required to secure the recommendation of two existing members. Approval is decided at the meeting of the board of directors.
In addition to individual membership, groups may join as associate members or as sponsoring members.