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Ruth Reiner


20. Between Comedy and Tragedy


Dear friends. Just so you don’t take it too hard I would like to start preparing you for the near future reality. As every sweet thing comes to an end, also my stay here in Japan is about to be concluded by the end of November, just after the peak of the Autumn. This also means that we are coming toward the end of our book, “The Great Onisaburo Deguchi”.

And so, as I mentioned in the last item, Onisaburo was sentenced to life imprisonment. One thousand Oomoto people throughout the country were subject to police investigations, and many to severe torture.

The whole Oomoto court case was quite a drama. For instance, there is a recollection of lawyer Zenken Miki, of the public hearing. And he notes:

“On one occasion, the policemen who conducted the interrogations appeared in the court as witnesses, and would not say a word for well over an hour. The were exercising what we now call the right of silence, since if they spoke, the truth would come out. And this was in the days when there was no such thing as the right to remain silent... When this (the silence) lasted too long for him, Naoharu Shoji (the presiding judge at the first hearing) said, “In court there is such a thing as the judge’s opinion, so how about leaving it at that?”
It turns out that lawyer Zenken Miki, too, was arrested and held in police custody early in the trial. And so the lawyers who defended Oomoto were also subjected to harassment.

We can on the other hand see how the Oomoto people were treated in court. The lawyer Noboru Koyama describes “How the investigation and the case were fabricated through conspiracy and torture.” This too we can find in chapter 37:

“When the defendants, unable to take any more, said what the police wanted, they were told before being sent to the prosecutor’s office, ‘If you deny anything at the prosecutor’s office, you will be sent back to the police. Understand?... When thinking he will not be tortured here in the court room, one of the defendants denied the charges, he was intimidated with the threat, ‘If you deny the charges, all the defendants will remain in custody for years. Many of them are old, and might die before judgment is passed‘“

Onisaburo giving "Not Guilty" sign with his hands
But with all this going on, it seems that our hero, Onisaburo, had not such a bad time after all:
“Onisaburo spent his days from the time he gets up at six in the morning to nine in the evening when he goes to bed taking naps (sounds like me!) ... reading magazines when it is allowed... ’I have felt very fit ever since I came here,’ he said in gratitude...”

Onisaburo, knowing that in the end they will be found not guilty, could keep his spirits high. He wanted to convey this message to the followers and so in one of the photographs taken for a news paper, he poses as in the picture below, holding up six fingers. this was a sign he often showed to people, in the detention house, in the court room and elsewhere.
“Everyone was at loss how to interpret it, but actually it was a pun on the word meaning ‘six’ and also ‘not’ (in this case ‘not guilty’)” .(ch 37)

Well I wouldn’t guess that is the meaning for sure, but you know he had his ways...

In the year 1942, when the war was escalating day by day, Onisaburo was held in a prison in Osaka. It is said that as other inmates and some visitors were terrified by the enemy air raids, Onisaburo would say to them:
“As long as I’m in here there won’t be any air raids, but I can’t guarantee after I am gone.” On August 7 of that year, Onisaburo was freed on bail, and afterwards the air raids began, turning Osaka into a sea of flames.” (ch 38)

Quite shocking isn’t it?! War, what is war good for anyway? If you ask me: War is a stuped male thing. But that is for another stage. But I will actually just use this stage to note, that it seems extremely obvious to me that Oomoto, with its great power to inspire the world to go toward peace and understanding among religions and cultures, is led by a woman, as the spiritual leader, and can be led only by a woman, cause the peace will be finally brought to the world by women in my opinion. Well sorry, got a bit off the topic...

It is said that when Onisaburo was asked by the Asahi and Mainichi newspapers to whether he had a hard time or not he replied “Oh, no. It was rather fun.” (ch 38) To their astonished reaction, Onisaburo gave an example, which I personally find hilarious:
“The judge at the preliminary hearing had said to me, ‘You intended to become director of the world, didn’t you?’ I replied that I wouldn’t become king of this cramped little world even if the whole world begged me to. However, if the whole of the three thousand worlds all asked me to become king of the three thousand worlds I might just do them a favor and become king. Then the judge told me that things beyond this world are not valid in the law. I don’t like to be restricted like that, so I told him straight, ‘Don’t you try to bring me down to that level.’”

I personally recommend to any one who comes across this book to open chapters 37-38, they are quite amusing, and interesting but I can’t quote everything, you know!

So anyway I think this will be just enough for today. Got to go. Can you believe I only have three more weeks here in Japan... Well talk to you later. Ruth 

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