Court rules in case that has rocked upper echelons of Shinto association

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Association of Shinto Shrines at Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

The Tokyo District Court dismissed a claim by a member of the Association of Shinto Shrines whose appointment to a top role had been rejected by the association’s board.

Takaho Ashihara, 70, filed the lawsuit after the association rejected his claim to the post of “socho,” who supervises the administrative side of the association and assists the highest-ranking official of the organization, the “tori.”

According to the ruling, tori Naotake Takatsukasa, 77, selected Ashihara as the next socho at an association board meeting in May. But in the ruling, chief judge Tetsuro Sasamoto said, “the appointment process requires a vote by the board members.”

At a June board meeting, nine of the 15 members in attendance voted for the incumbent socho Tsunekiyo Tanaka, 78, to continue his tenure.

The association’s rules state, “The socho shall be appointed by the tori from among the board members, after deliberation by the board.” The lawsuit focused on an interpretation of the rules regarding the position of socho.

Ashihara’s side claimed that “the socho is appointed by the tori based on the board’s deliberations.”

However, the court rejected his claim, ruling that “[The position] is decided after deliberations by the board and the deliberations amount to a vote.”

Ashihara said he will consider an appeal.