“Calling on Jinja Shinpō and its Readers while Lamenting the Current State of Jinja Honchō”
This is not the sort of title I expect to see on an article in Jinja Shinpō, and indeed the first sentence of the article says, basically, “I am not at all sure whether this article will be printed in Jinja Shinpō”. As I have mentioned before, Jinja Shinpō rarely publishes anything critical of the Shinto establishment, or even anything that might be awkward for them. This is why I included them in the Shinto establishment in my essay on the topic (which is now part of the book). In some ways, this is actually helpful for me, because it means that I can assume that any jinja activities reported in Jinja Shinpō are uncontroversial
On the other hand, it is a bit of a problem for a newspaper, and that is actually the main point of the article. The author, the chief priest of a jinja in Kanagawa Prefecture, starts by saying that he worked at Jinja Honchō almost thirty years ago, and has worked with it on various committees in the years since, but he feels that it has changed, and needs reform. However, he then says that he will not say anything specific about its problems in this article.
Instead, the article calls on people to write articles about these topics for Jinja Shinpō, so that there will be a lively debate in the pages of the newspaper. He also calls on Jinja Shinpō to report on important issues in more detail, even if they are a bit uncomfortable for the leadership of Jinja Honchō. The example he gives is the recent withdrawal of Kotohiragū from Jinja Honchō. The two sides give different versions of events, so the newspaper could simply print both stories. I wrote about that withdrawal a few weeks ago, and it is true that I had to search online to find any details; Jinja Shinpō said almost nothing beyond the fact that it was happening.
I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with the call in this article. I might not agree with his particular criticisms of Jinja Honchō (although I might — as he does not say what they are, I have no idea), but it is clear that jinja in Japan are facing serious structural problems, as the population ages and shifts away from agriculture and towards cities. In such a situation, it is important for people in those positions to discuss the problems that they see, and look for solutions. Jinja Shinpō, which every priest in the country gets, even if they do not all read it, is clearly the best forum for doing so. I also suspect that it would make the newspaper even more interesting.
What will happen?
I have no idea. It is possible that people at Jinja Honchō will try to fire the author, although that would be politically very unwise, and I strongly suspect that they know that — so I do not expect that to happen. After all, he did not make any specific criticisms that they can object to. The real question is whether anyone else will take him up on his suggestion, and whether the people at Jinja Shinpō will follow his suggestion of reporting on relevant events in a bit more detail.
I await developments with great interest.