Offbeat Far from zen: Japan monk sues temple for overwork

13:31  17 may  2018
13:31  17 may  2018 Source:   afp.com

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The case is a rare, public labour dispute involving the Japanese spiritual sector© Provided by AFP The case is a rare, public labour dispute involving the Japanese spiritual sector A Japanese monk is suing his temple, claiming he was forced to work non-stop catering to visiting tourists and that the heavy workload gave him depression, his lawyer told AFP on Thursday.

The monk in his forties is seeking 8.6 million yen ($78,000) from his temple on Mount Koya, a World Heritage Site also known as Koyasan that regarded as one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Japan.

The plaintiff began working at a temple there in 2008 and became depressed around December 2015, according to his lawyer Noritake Shirakura.

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WAKAYAMA – A monk working for a temple at the World Heritage Site of Mount Koya in western Japan has filed a suit for damages, claiming he developed A local labor standards supervision office has already recognized his overwork , confirming he once worked for at least a month without a day off.

Buddist monk . Rector of Hanazono University. Examples of the marriage of monks in Japan can be found as early as the Heian period (794-1185). In Taisho in 1920 the Jodo (Pure Land) School of Buddhism issued a set of Regulations for Temple Families.

"If you work as a monk, too often you work without work-hour management," Shirakura told AFP.

"You provide labour, but you are told it's part of religious training. And if it's training, you must endure even it causes you significant hardship."

"Through this case, we will argue that such a notion is outdated," he said.

Shirakura declined to name his client or the temple being sued, saying the man wanted to preserve his anonymity so he could eventually return to his job or find a position elsewhere in the small community of Buddhist monks.

The case argues that the monk was forced to perform paid labour far beyond his spiritual duties, and at times worked for more than two months straight.

In 2015, when the Koyasan area celebrated its 1,200th anniversary, he was forced to work for up to 64 days in a row to handle a surge of tourists to the site, Shirakura said.

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Without him it would be hard to tell the fate of Zen in Japan . He was no founder of a temple of any ecclesiastical importance; he lived his unpretentious life in a small temple in Suruga province, devoting himself to the bringing up of Zen monks and to the propagation of his teaching among laymen.

I'm currently at a Pure Land temple , but I'm more fond, and will feel better in zen . A master is a Zen monk (or priest, if you prefer) who is qualified to teach others. They further describe people who have completed (not always the same) training in rituals and texts.

Some days, he worked 17 hours straight, performing various temple functions including attending to visitors, the lawyer said.

The monk has already won the backing of a local labour bureau, which acknowledged that the long stretch of work days without holiday met the definition of overwork.

The case is a rare, public labour dispute involving the Japanese spiritual sector.

In 2017, Kyoto's renowned Higashi Honganji temple was forced to publicly apologise for failing to pay overtime compensation and engaging in work-place harassment.

Overwork is a major problem in Japan, and death by overwork is a recognised phenomenon that even has its own word in Japanese -- "karoshi."

A government report released last year found there had been 191 cases of "karoshi" in the 12 months to March 2017, and that more than seven percent of Japanese employees logged over 20 hours of overtime a week.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has introduced reforms intended to tackle the problem of overwork, but family members who have lost loved ones to the problem argue the measures fall short.

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