The Supreme Court in Tokyo recently dismissed three separate lawsuits filed by the Nichiren Shoshu clergy, both which sought the removal of priests who belong to reformist priests associations.
On Jan. 24,2002. the Supreme Court sided with Hoshin Nakajima, member of the Association of Priests Concerned for Nichiren Shoshu and the Protection of the Law and chief priest of Myodoji Temple in Nagoya City, who seceded from Nichiren Shoshu in 1992. The priesthood banned Rev. Nakajima in 1993 and filed suit to oust him from his post as Myodoji Temple’s chief priest. The Nagoya District Court dismissed Nichiren Shoshu’s claims in 1998 on the grounds that the religious dispute was beyond the jurisdiction of the court; upon appeal, the Nagoya High Court upheld the lower court’s ruling in 2000.
On Jan. 30, the Supreme Court dismissed a similar suit filed by the Nichiren Shoshu priesthood against Shindo Yamamoto, another reformist cleric who is a member of the Association for Reformation of Nichiren Shoshu and the chief priest of Josetsuji Temple in Kamaishi City, Iwate Prefecture.
Also on February 22, the Supreme Court dismissed an eviction suit filed by Nichiren Shoshu against Rev. Jizai Watanabe of Daikyo-ji Temple. The plaintiff had sought to evict the defendant from his temple after he disassociated himself from the priesthood in October 1992. The Yokohama District Court had ruled in Rev. Watanabe’s favor, but the appellate court overturned the decision. The defendant then appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed with the district court. The latest verdict is the third issued by the Supreme Court in 2002 over similar eviction suits filed by Nichiren Shoshu against priests belonging to reform organizations.