“Airbrushing and Doctoring Photos”
Nichiren Shoshu sued for damages in March 1993, demanding that the Soka Gakkai and President Ikeda pay one billion yen in damages, publish apologies and never again publish the photo.
In December 1999, the Tokyo District Court ruled partially in favor of Nichiren Shoshu. Soka Gakkai and President Ikeda were ordered to pay four million yen. The district court rejected the temple’s other claims and simultaneously ordered Nichiren Shoshu to pay 3,100,000 yen in legal costs. But, it did not order the Soka Gakkai to apologize, and did not ban further publication of the photos. Soka Shimpo had not stated the date of the pictures, and the geisha were not identified — these were the faults the court found, and they have nothing to do with the substance of the photos themselves.
Soka Gakkai immediately appealed the decision, saying that publishing the photo was consistent with the wider context of a religious conflict which included legitimate debate over the high priest’s character. It won the appeal. The district court had refused evidence about that conflict and about Nichiren Shoshu’s published claims of Nikken’s moral purity, including the specific claim that he did not frequent geisha. These claims were not allowed by the court.
SG-eye would like to lead its readers to the conclusion that the Gakkai was found guilty of doctoring the photos to depict Nikken at a party he had not actually attended.
This was not what the District Court found, and SG-eye knows it.
SG-eye would also like its readers to believe that the appellate court, which overturned all judgments against the Gakkai, was motivated by a technicality — i.e., that the legal entity Nichiren Shoshu was the wrong person to sue.
Again, this is not exactly what the court said. Of course, SG-eye does not want its readers to know exactly what the court said.
The court said:
Throughout the history of Nichiren Shoshu, there have been cases where the qualifications of the high priest of the time were challenged by priests and lay believers, and the high priest was asked to resign because of doctrinal deviations or improper conduct. It was thus a matter of fact that such high priests were removed from their position. Argument or actions against the current high priest to question his competency were undertaken with the intention of protecting the correct Buddhist teachings and Nichiren Shoshu.There are two reasons Nichiren Shoshu does not want SG-eye’s readers to be aware of the above. Most immediately, it makes it clear the overturning of the lower court was not merely due to an “improper person filing”. What it says is that the question of the character of its High Priest is a proper one for Nichiren Shoshu to confront, and that this has been done many times throughout its history.
And that is the second reason Nichiren Shoshu would like to hide this decision. It has told its members — and they, in turn, declare it to the world — that the lineage of high priests has been pure and unbroken, that the Law has been transmitted without change from one pure vessel to the next, from Nichiren to Nikken, that all high priests have been “by definition” equal in wisdom and compassion to Nichiren. The court decision acknowledges that Nichiren Shoshu itself knows this isn’t true, that Nichiren Shoshu itself has in fact questioned the qualifications of its own High Priests.
More rebuttal of SG-eye: