The Number Of Muslims In Japan Is Swiftly Rising
According to the data revealed by Tanada Hirofumi of Waseda University, the number of Muslims in Japan is significantly increasing.
For the past ten years, the number has more than doubled. In 2010, the statistics showed the number of Muslim worshippers in Japan to be around 110,000.
However, at the end of 2019, the number increased to 230,000 (including 50,000 Japanese converts).
Moreover, to facilitate the Muslim worshippers in the country, the country boasts more than 110 mosques.
Muhammad Tahir Abbas Khan, a professor at the Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University (APU) and head of the Beppu Muslim Association (BMA), said the increased number of mosques is a welcome move for the Muslims.
In 2001, when Khan relocated to Japan as a Pakistani graduate, there were only 24 mosques in the nation and not a single one on the island of Kyushu, where Khan is located.
In Japan, most Muslims live in three metropolitan areas: the Greater Tokyo Area, the Chukyo Metropolitan Area, and the Kansai region.
While Muslims now have more opportunities, they still struggle to find final resting places.
Around 99% of Japanese are cremated, a practice Islam forbids.
The government has no system for catering to foreigners’ needs with different customs as foreign workers are seen as temporary visitors rather than permanent migrants.
Most cities in Japan, including Beppu, where the APU is located, have no Muslim cemeteries.
The BMA has spent years trying to establish one, yet local resistance has stalled the project.
“If I die today, I do not know where I will be buried,” Tahir Abbas Khan laments.
Japan Japan hai!
Other than the burial issue, Khan remarks that Japan is “a nice place to live.”
Muslim migrants have long appreciated Japan’s security, cleanliness, and functionality.
“Anzen, anzen,” coos a group of Indonesian fishermen in Tokyo, repeating the Japanese word for “safety” when questioned about life in Japan.
The Japanese people are “so kind,” says Ben Madaliev, who came from Uzbekistan on a scholarship to study business at the APU.
Colleagues at Ben’s part-time job accepted his need to pray five times a day, and now even routinely remind him when he is late for his prayers!
Though negative stereotypes about Islam thrive, most Japanese have little first-hand experience of it and remain open-minded.
“It is much better than going to the West,” reckons Ali, an Uzbek student living in Tokyo.
Halal restaurants remain low, but more are opening, especially as more Muslim tourists from South and South-East Asia visit Japan.
The Muslim community in Beppu won over locals by cooking and distributing food to those displaced by the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes.
They host yearly festivals and weekly dinners at the mosque to establish good relations with their Japanese neighbors.
“We’re trying to integrate,” Khan says. “We adopted Japan as our home country.”
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