January 29 Supreme Court rules in favor of chief priest, Rev. Shindo Yamamoto of the Association for Reformation of Nichiren Shoshu.
February 22 Supreme Court rules in favor of chief priest, Rev. Jisai Watanabe.
(from September 26, 2004 issue, Mainichi Shimbun)
Dated January 29, the Supreme Court Petit Jury No. 3 (presided by Judge Masamichi Okuda) repealed the second ruling that annulled the first ruling in which the first court dismissed the eviction suit filed by the priesthood to oust chief priest Rev. Shindo Yamamoto (of the Josetsuji temple, Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture), a member of the Association for Reformation of Nichiren Shoshu, from the temple. The Court totally sustained chief priest Rev. Yamamoto’s allegation and concluded the case against the priesthood.
On January 24, the Supreme Court also ruled against the priesthood in a similar case. The clergy was attempting to unjustly force eviction of Myodoji temple (chief priest Rev. Hoshin Nakajima, a member of the Association of Priests Concerned in Nichiren Shoshu and Protection of the Law) in Nagoya.
Furthermore, regarding a similar case in which the priesthood demanded chief priest Rev. Jisai Watanabe, another member of the Association for Reformation of Nichiren Shoshu, to evict his temple (Daikyoji temple in Kanagawa Prefecture), the Supreme Court Petit Jury No. 2’s Judge Hiroshi Fukuda, on February 22, sustained Rev. Watanabe’s assertion and ruled against the priesthood.
In both cases, the argument focused on the issue of whether High Priest Nikken is authorized to take disciplinary actions or not. To rephrase it, the cases are focused on the question of authority of Nikken as an official high priest, a legitimate heir who succeeded the heritage of the Law. The cases filed at the court, however, were deemed inappropriate and cannot be subjected to legal jurisdiction. Thus, the court dismissed both cases.
Article 3 of the Judicature Acts restricts the court to try cases regarding legal accusations. Accordingly, religious disputes do not apply to the definition of legal accusation and therefore is not a matter to be judged at the court of law.
Article 20 of the Japanese Constitution spells out the principles of freedom of religion and separation of religious organizations and the State, which, again, prohibits the power of authorities, including the court of law, to interfere with religious affairs.
Consequently, based on reasons stated above, the court concluded that legal actions taken by the priesthood were religious disputes and therefore not appropriate to be taken up at the court of the law.
There exists no objective proof that High Priest Nikken succeeded the heritage of the Law as a legitimate heir.Nikken, nevertheless, attempted to abuse his authority in spite of this fatal, foredooming issue, which, as a matter of course, proved to be totally abortive in the eyes of the court, and instead was ordered to pathetically leave the court empty-handed.
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