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Presidential Election

OK, back to Jinja Honchō politics. The June 13th issue of Jinja Shinpō had an article about the current state of the election of the new president of Jinja Honchō on the front page.

On June 3rd, the last day of the term of the previous directors and officers, the chairman wrote to all members of the Oversight Council and to all the Prefectural Jinjachō saying that he named Revd Ashihara as president and Revd Nishitakatsuji as vice president at the board meeting on May 28th, and that after consultation with several lawyers on the interpretation of Jinja Honchō’s rules, he had been assured that these appointments were already valid, and thus formally notified the secretariat of Jinja Honchō on May 31st. On the same day, five directors (out of seventeen), including Revd Ashihara and Revd Nishitakatsuji, also wrote to all members of the Oversight Council to explain what had happened.

However, on June 6th, the secretariat at Jinja Honchō wrote to the heads of all the Prefectural Jinjachō in the name of the head of the general administration department, saying that the Board of Directors had failed to agree on a new president, vice president, and executive directors, and that, until a new president was appointed, Revd Tanaka would continue to serve as president, as laid out in the regulations. They assured people that they would continue to deal with all administrative matters as appropriate.

Obviously, this is really bad. It is important to note, however, that next year’s budget for Jinja Honchō was approved, and that most of its work does not directly involve the president. The everyday activities will continue.

Even so, we have two people claiming to be the legitimate president of Jinja Honchō at the same time.

I do not know how this will turn out; here are some possibilities, based on my understanding of the situation.

1. The Board of Directors meets again and agrees on a president and vice president who are named by the chairman, and then they elect two executive directors. This would indicate that some sort of compromise had been reached behind the scenes, and is the least troublesome resolution.

2. The chairman and/or some directors resign. If the directors who are opposed to the chairman resigned, this would see Revd Ashihara taking office as president. If the chairman resigned (and, recall, he was re-elected unanimously a couple of weeks ago), there would be no president. In either case, I believe that the Oversight Council would have to be convened again to elect replacements, and I would expect further lively discussions.

3. There is another lawsuit. The problem hinges on the interpretation of Jinja Honchō’s regulations. The chairman needs to discuss his choice of president with the board, but it is not crystal clear whether he needs the approval of the whole board before naming someone. The chairman thinks he doesn’t; the other side, which has a majority on the board, think he does. The regulations make it clear that the board does elect the executive directors, but is not explicit about the president and vice president, and that can be read either way. Are you supposed to assume that the president and vice president are elected as well, or does the fact that the rules do not say that they are elected mean that they are not, because the rules do specify for the posts that are elected? This is presumably why both sides have lawyers supporting their interpretation.

When you hit that sort of deadlock, you have to go to court to determine what the regulations actually mean. This would be a bad outcome, and not only because the previous court case has only just finished. Court cases take a long time to resolve, and for that period Jinja Honchō would have no generally recognised president. The president is important on a day-to-day basis, although I am not sure how many things need his personal approval. Apart from anything else, he has to make a decision about how to handle the fact that the people who sued Jinja Honchō have been restored to their previous positions.

4. Jinja Honchō actually splits. This is the worst outcome that strikes me as a realistic possibility, but I do not think it is likely — at least, not yet.

I have no doubt I will be writing about this again in the future, when there is some movement — hopefully, a resolution.

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4 thoughts on “Presidential Election”

  1. Aloha David! Thank you. For this to be reported in the Jinja Shinpo makes me think this is an enormous organizational management challenge which will, no matter how it is resolved, lead to positive change. Thankful for your essays about the organizational management challenges of the Jinja Honcho.

  2. Amazing, shocking stuff. Thank you so much for reporting all this! I’m glad to be able to know about all this, thanks to you.

  3. It amazes me that such levels of ambiguity exist in documentation that has such an impact on matters. I wonder if it was just a case of pushing the issue down the line because it hadn’t been an issue up to this point. Have to wonder if nobody in the past had looked at it funny and sought out a rectification to prevent against such an issue as is occurring now.

    1. These sorts of ambiguities always exist. It’s not possible to write rules that have no ambiguities, and there’s no way to tell in advance which ones will prove to be important. Remember that one issue in the last US Presidential election was that it was not crystal clear that the Vice President had to accept the vote totals he was being told.

      The Japanese constitution has the same problem with the Tennō. He must approve all laws for them to come into force, but he has to make those decisions in line with the cabinet. It is not at all clear what would happen if the Tennō suddenly decided not to approve something. Actually, the relationship between the Jinja Honchō Board of Directors and the chairman is very similar to the relationship between the government and the Tennō. The ambiguity has just come to a head at Jinja Honchō now.

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