The regular autumn meeting of Jinja Honchō’s Oversight Council is scheduled for October 13th, and it promises, once again, to be “lively”. On September 7th, the Board of Directors met to prepare for it, and the meeting was reported on the front page of the September 19th issue of Jinja Shinpō.
A lot of boring but important business seems to have passed without issue. That is one of the most promising features of the current problems — no-one seems to be interested in disrupting the normal operation of Jinja Honchō over their disagreements.
One of these points is worth noting. Jinja Honchō is looking into moving to a paperless meeting system, and running things over the internet. This will include providing laptops, because there is no guarantee that a priest selected for an important office within Jinja Honchō will have a computer. The need to provide training was also raised, because the priests do not necessarily know how to use computers either. This is still being investigated, but most of my meetings with Jinja Honchō are now held online, so I suspect that this change will happen in the fairly near future.
There was not, it seems, very much discussion of the ongoing dispute. Expenditure related to it did show up in the accounts, and raised some questions. For example, Jinja Honchō had to pay the back salaries of the two employees that the courts ruled had never been legally fired, and the costs for the salaries before the last financial year had to be registered somewhere. In the end, a special category was set up for them.
There were two concrete questions about legal expenses. One was about the high expenditure on the bond paid into the court during the appeals over the unfair dismissal court case. That was easily explained — Jinja Honchō has got the money back, because they have paid the assessed liabilities, but the procedures for returning it were not completed in the last financial year. This year will have very low legal expenses, as the return of the bond will be booked as income.
The other question was more substantial. One of the directors is suing to be recognised as the president of Jinja Honchō. Jinja Honchō is paying the legal expenses of the other side. Someone (possibly the director who is suing, but not necessarily) asked whether it was appropriate for Jinja Honchō to pay one side’s expenses when the case was, effectively, one group of directors suing another group. It’s a good question. It doesn’t appear to have been answered clearly.
At the end, there were a few remarks specifically about the Oversight Council meeting. It seems that a proposal signed jointly by six directors has been distributed (the article says nothing at all about its contents, or who signed it), and that people are calling (possibly in that proposal — the Japanese is, probably deliberately, ambiguous here) for the board and Oversight Council meetings to be more open. As part of this, they want accurate minutes, including recordings of the meetings, to be shared.
It was also noted that the director chosen by the national council of sōdai has still not been elected, and questions were raised about the listing of officers on Jinja Honchō’s website. Finally, it seems someone asked about the legal basis on which Revd Tanaka continues to act as president.
In his closing remarks, the chairman noted that Jinja Honchō was still insufficiently open, and that if it didn’t reform itself, it would have no future. He called on them to consider how far they had understood positions that were based on that necessity.
As I said at the beginning, October’s Oversight Council meeting is unlikely to be boring.
Great to see the push for written minutes which can be shared. Major prospective positive step forward at the board level, in terms of transparency, which has to happen, I think, before major positive changes can happen.