The ongoing pandemic seriously disrupted the May meeting of Jinja Honchō’s Oversight Council. With states of emergency in effect across much of Japan, including Tokyo, the leadership of Jinja Honchō took the decision to not gather the full Oversight Council, but rather just have a meeting of the Standing Committee. This is permitted by the rules; the Council can vote to allow the Standing Committee to perform some of its functions in exceptional circumstances, and a pandemic certainly counts.
The proposal was sent to all members of the Oversight Council (167 people), and they voted by post. One hundred and twenty two voted in favour, and 27 against. (The others presumably did not get their votes back in time.) This is significant for two reasons.
First, this is the first time I can remember Jinja Shinpō reporting the result of a vote and actually giving a number of votes against. There has always been a strong implication that motions were passed unanimously.
Second, about 15% of the Oversight Council thinks that its business this time is too important to leave to the Standing Committee, even during a pandemic. I suspect that this represents people who strongly disagree with the recent decisions made by Jinja Honchō’s leadership.
Although the May 31st issue of Jinja Shinpō is dated after the Standing Committee meeting took place, it had to go to press before, so it only covers the Board meeting that took place to decide what the Standing Committee would discuss. The formal matters for consideration are all boring administrative matters, such as the budget for the next financial year. I doubt that any of them are controversial, although I could be wrong.
The Board also decided that the motions submitted by regional representatives would be held over until the October meeting, for which everyone hopes it will be possible to meet in person. Under most circumstances, that would be obviously the right decision, as these motions are normally recommendations for Jinja Honchō to do more of what it is already doing, to which Jinja Honchō responds with some information about its plans. However, this time there may have been motions about the court case or related matters, and thus the decision may be more controversial.
The board meeting also went over a letter that Jinja Honchō has sent to the prefectural Jinjachō, explaining its reasons for appealing against the judgement in favour of the whistleblowers. The key point seems to be that many reports of the decision have suggested that, as the whistleblowers won, the corruption that they pointed out must have been real. This is not the case. As I described in my post about the judgement, the judge said that the whistleblowers were wrong, but that they were still protected because they had reasonable grounds for their belief that people had acted dishonestly. Jinja Honchō seem to be appealing because they do not think that whistleblowers should be protected if they are wrong. (They also seem to disagree with the court’s characterisation of some of the events, but I am not entirely clear on those details.)
I do not know how the Tokyo High Court will rule on that, but I think Jinja Honchō should lose. Whistleblowers should not need to be right; it should be enough for them to have good reason to think that they are right.
Anyway, it appears that the Standing Committee was not officially supposed to consider the court case at all. It will be interesting to see the report on the meeting, and find out what actually happened.