Feb. 2004 – No. 4
On Feb. 24, the Japanese Supreme Court, Chief Judge Toshihiro Kanatani presiding, rejected an appeal made by Nichiren Shoshu in a lawsuit pertaining to Nikken Abe’s “Geisha pictures” and the Soka Gakkai. The Court endorsed the ruling made by the Tokyo High Court, signaling the priesthood’s defeat.
After its defeat in the “Seattle Incident,” the priesthood lost in “two major trials” which they themselves filed. More than anything, the correctness of the Soka Gakkai who accused the nature of Nikken Abe, a degenerate high priest, was proven again in the court.
Nikken’s “Geisha pictures” were carried in Soka Shimpo dated Nov. 4 and 18, 1992. These two pictures, which were partially amended, were originally taken in Nov. 22, 1986 at an expensive restaurant “Kawasaki,” located in Akasaka, Tokyo where Nikken, together with other priests, had an elaborate dinner with many geishas. These pictures were published to condemn Nikken for his frequent indulgences using followers’ offerings, going completely against the doctrines established by Nikko Shonin, the founder of the religion. Nikko clearly stated for the high priest of Nichiren Shoshu to be one whom “desires and is satisfied with little” and admonished “spending time in idleness and chatter.” In response, Nichiren Shoshu claimed in its organ publications that Nikken did not own a pair of hakama (Japanese trousers) with the design seen in the pictures and that the pictures were composition in which the head was replaced with that of another person. However, when the date, time and place of the feast were clarified, there was no doubt that it was actually Nikken in the pictures. In May 1993, rather than Nikken himself, two corporation of “Nichiren Shoshu” and “Taiseki-ji” filed a suit as plaintiffs claiming that the reporting was libel and demanded one billion yen (approx. $9 million), an excessive amount in damages.
In the first hearing held on Dec. 6, 1999, the Tokyo District Court agreed with the priesthood’s assertions, ordering the Soka Gakkai to pay damages. The Soka Gakkai appealed the Court’s decision, questioning whether the ruling contravened judicial precedent.
In response, on Dec. 5, 2000, the Tokyo High Court agreed that the contents of the article were “directed at Nikken’s personal behavior and character” and “questioned his qualification as a high priest.” The Court also recognized that “condemning Nikken Abe does not necessarily mean accusing appellees Nichiren Shoshu and Taiseki-ji themselves,” claiming that “in the history of Nichiren Shoshu, there were cases in which the high priest was forced to resign due to violation of doctrines and involvement in scandals which raised questions within the priesthood about their qualification as high priest. It was also a matter of course for high priests to step down from their positions. Also, it can be recognized that no one believed talking about or questioning qualifications of the high priest was an attack against Nichiren Shoshu, since these actions were taken to preserve the correct law and Nichiren Shoshu.” Thus, the court overruled the ruling made by the Tokyo District Court, rejecting all claims made by the priesthood.
In short, the Tokyo High Court recognized that the purpose of Soka Shimpo article was to bring about a discussion on Nikken’s qualification as high priest, and the Supreme Court confirmed this.
In court, the Soka Gakkai proved Nikken’s actual degeneracy submitting concrete proofs, as well as verifying the behavior of other officiating priests. On the contrary, the priesthood was unable to rebut at all.
The High Court also ruled against Nikken’s cunningness of making Nichiren Shoshu and Taiseki-ji as plaintiffs to file a suit for his personal issue, afraid of appearing in court.
In 2003, the Supreme Court, on two separate occasions, ruled against Nikken. In July, a libel suit was brought by chief priest Takudo Ikeda of the Association of Reformist priest; and September, a libel suit was brought by the Soka Gakkai regarding records of the “Seattle Incident.”
With this latest victory, the Soka Gakkai has won in every trial with Nichiren Shoshu. Fourteen years after the hatching of “Operation C,” the judicial arena has provided an impartial and reputable forum for the Soka Gakkai to receive justice.
This latest decision by the Supreme Court has also highlighted the true nature of Nikken: an evil and corrupt priest of an unprecedented sort. It has become clear that there is no other way out for Nikken. He must resign.
(From Seikyo Shimbun, Feb. 26, 2004)