Most Japanese practiced both indigenous Shinto and Buddhism (imported from Korea in the 6th Century).

In the late 19th Century, an ultranationalistic form of Shinto was promulgated, proclaiming the Emperor to be a direct descendant of divine beings.

Although a human being (not a “god”), the Emperor embodied the property of kami nature perfectly and emphasized the uniqueness of Japan (see July 31 post about kokutai).

As a direct link between Japanese people and the divine, the Emperor received unquestioning loyalty.