Insisting that cremation was sanitary and that it also saved grave space while facilitating- ancestor worship, cremation supporters appropriated state-sanctioned values and aims to win repeal of the ban only two years after it went into effect. Ironically, the end result of the ban was a widely accepted rationale for cremation, which was transformed from a minority practice into a majority one. By the end of the twentieth century, cremation had become the fate of nearly every Japanese.
In the summer of 1873, the Meiji government’s Council of State declared a nationwide ban on cremation, a Buddhist practice that had long been considered barbaric and grossly unfilial by Confucian and nativist scholars. In response to the prohibition, an alliance of Buddhist priests, educated citizens, and even government officials proceeded to argue that, far from being an “evil custom” of the past, cremation was a “civilized” practice suited to the future.