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Questions of Accounts

This blog post continues my report on the October meeting of the Oversight Council. You might want to start with my explanation of the council, or with the first part of this report, or even with the second part.

The budgets were followed by the accounts, which specified what Jinja Honchō had spent its money on in the previous financial year (July to June). The accounts were all accepted by the council.

And then it was time for questions.

The first question was about the payments to Jinja Honchō’s lawyer, for the court case in which Jinja Honchō is being sued for wrongful dismissal by two of its former employees. The questioner, Revd Makino, also pointed out that a defeat in the case would be a serious blow to Jinja Honchō, and its affiliated jinja, as a whole, and requested an emergency meeting of the board of directors after the verdict, to determine where responsibility lay. Another councillor, Revd Ujihashi, followed up by urging the standing committee or board of directors to meet and agree on a compromise in which both sides made concessions.

The head of the financial division explained what they were paying the lawyer, and then the head of the secretariat (this is essentially the highest division in the administrative bit of Jinja Honchō) took on the other questions. Apparently, after both sides had submitted compromise proposals to the court, the two people who brought the case submitted a further proposal, which had not been shown to the court in advance, and was very difficult for Jinja Honchō to accept. The court advised Jinja Honchō that they could ignore this proposal, and Jinja Honchō has concluded that the other side does not seriously want to settle.

After this, Revd Kobayashi, another councillor, stood up and said that they should not be worried about trivialities like the court case, but rather unify around important issues like stopping the government inviting Xi Jinping to Japan on a State Visit, given the crises in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Revd Sano then stood up and said that the Shinto world certainly needed to unify, but that the court case was not a trivial issue; rather, if left alone, it could spell the end of jinja in their current form.

As their discussion went on, and apparently became heated, the council chairman pointed out that they had a time limit, and suggested that they return to the agenda, a proposal that was accepted with a round of applause.

The supplementary budget was debated and passed, with a question about the steps being taken to make better use of online meetings and other digital technology. (Jinja Honchō said that they were working on it, which certainly appears to be true.)

In the final remarks, Tanaka Tsunëkiyo, the president of Jinja Honchō, asked everyone to speak at the Oversight Council so that “the right things come across in the right way”, and suggested that Revd Sano should have raised some of his issues on the smaller committee at Jinja Honchō that he is on, as a committee member and member of the pool of editorial writers for Jinja Shinpō. He reminded them that they had passed a resolution to fight the court case as a whole, and said that he thought the verdict would be appealed whichever way it went, so they needed to be ready to work together.

The meeting closed with the chairman of Jinja Honchō, Takatsukasa Naotakë, pointing out that the directors do not need the Oversight Council’s approval to fight the court case, but that he hoped that the decisions on what to do would reflect wide discussions.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. I do not think that there is anything happening that could spell the end of jinja in something like their current form — they have too much history, and their roots in the local community are too deep. Jinja Honchō, however, is nothing like so secure. I do hope they manage to solve the problems.

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