OUTLINE OF OOMOTO 7
7. OOMOTO CASE 1
In the morning of February 12, 1921, more the two hundred armed police officers carried out a surprise raid on Oomoto headquarters at Ayabe and conducted domiciliary search of the premises. Even at some strategic positions in the streets the police were stationed. It was as if Ayabe were placed under martial law.
Onisaburo Deguchi, who had been in Osaka for a few days, was arrested on the same day while he was at his desk in Taisho Nichinichi Press at Umeda, near Osaka station. Another two leaders, Wasaburo Asano, the executive, and Sukesada Yoshia, editor of the Shinrei Kai were seized at their homes at Ayabe respectively and the three were interned in the House of Detention at Kyoto Prison. They were indicted on a charge of “Lese Majestic” and “Violation of the press law” and extended to other prefectures.
The Oomoto case 1 is outwardly apt to be regarded as a sudden occurrence through the authorities misunderstanding but was rather an intentional religious persecution by state power. The purpose of the police raid consisted evidently in nothing less than the annihilation of the religious order, the authorities though it most wise to apply “Lese Majestic” to the case. They had already given Oomoto warnings and placed the collection of the Holy Scriptures of the Nao Deguchi under a ban allegedly for reasons of “lese Majestic” and “Radical Ideas”.
We should also recollect the serious situation in which Japan was placed about that time: Her advance into China had been prevented; she was in complete international isolation. Deep unrest was prevailing among the people who had been compelled to follow State Shinto (Kokka Shinto) faith as a national obligation, and made them come together in Oomoto in search of salvation. A prophecy of Japanese great change to come had struck their hearts.
The raid gave a great shock not only to this religious order, but also to the public at large, and domiciliary search on large scale and the arrest of Onisaburo together with other executives were heavy blows dealt to Oomoto. Nevertheless when the search ended, the headquarters’ regained the wonderful serenity with no unrest, because there had already been previous notice in the Holy Scriptures about the affair.
Then another trouble for the religious order occurred: An order was issued by Kyoto Prefecture to rebuild the tomb of Nao Deguchi, because it unacceptably resembled the mausoleum of the Emperor Meiji. Invoking a clause in an old ordinance from as far back as 1872 destroyed the next shrines on the top of Honguyama. A few days before that, on October 5 the decision of the first trail was given to pass a sentence of five years imprisonment for Onisaburo, ten months imprisonment for Asano, and three months imprisonment and a find of 150 Yen for Yoshida.
Such a decision of “guilty” was, of course, unacceptable and rejected on the part of Oomoto, who at once appealed against it to the high court. But legally it put Oomoto down as that of a heretic. All the newspapers mercilessly slandered Oomoto giving sensational accounts of the case, which led the public to persecute Oomoto adherents.
The lawsuit continued till June 10, 1925, when at the supreme court quashed the charge against Onisaburo Deguchi and ruled to commit the case for retrial of fact, because there were obvious grounds for suspecting mistaken perception of facts having been made in giving the original decision.
While under trail, demise of Emperor Taisho on December 25, 1926, took place, which resulted in the proclamation of a general amnesty, and all three were acquitted on May 17, 1927. Thus the six-year-old Oomoto case 1 was solved for formality’s sake. But was it not remote cause of the Oomoto case II?