The May 16th issue of Jinja Shinpō carried an editorial about the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear Jinja Honchō’s appeal in the court case. Editorials in Jinja Shinpō are unsigned, but written by members of a group chosen because they are influential opinion formers within the Shinto world. Thus, the editorials are expected to be influential in shaping the future direction of Shinto, and are written on that assumption.
The title of this editorial could be loosely translated as “Pull Ourselves Together and Remember That We Are Supposed To Set An Example”. (It’s quite a bit shorter in Japanese.) The editorial starts with a very quick summary of the case, although I cannot imagine that anyone reading it needs one. The next section is interesting. It seems to be arguing that, even if people do not agree that the current legal framework for jinja correctly captures their fundamental character, they still need to follow the laws that apply. (This is almost certainly connected to the idea that jinja should be state institutions, as they were in the pre-war period, but the whole section — to be honest, the whole editorial — is a little oblique.)
The second half of the editorial is the most interesting. First, the author asks whether there were really no actions that went against the spirit of the people who wrote Jinja Honchō’s constitution, and no actions that looked suspicious. This is obviously a rhetorical question. However, the author goes on to draw attention to the real estate transaction that started the whole thing, and the personnel decisions that were the immediate cause of the court case. In other words, the author is suggesting that Jinja Honchō needs to take a hard look at itself.
The final section of the editorial says, effectively, that Jinja Honchō needs to do a lot more to solve the problems exposed by this dispute. It emphasises that Jinja Honchō is supposed to be an organisation of equals, that this case should be taken as an opportunity to totally rethink the structure and approach of Jinja Honchō so that it can be an “organisation with which anyone can cooperate, and with which no-one is reluctant to cooperate”.
This was published a week or so before the meeting of the Oversight Council, and can be expected to have been influential in setting the (informal) agenda. It will be very interesting to see the report of what happened at the meeting.