Far from Zen: Monk sues tem­ple for over­work

China Daily - - WORLD -

TOKYO — A Ja­panese monk is su­ing his tem­ple, claim­ing he was forced to work non­stop cater­ing to vis­it­ing tourists and that the heavy work­load gave him de­pres­sion, his lawyer said on Thurs­day.

The monk, who is in his 40s, is seek­ing 8.6 mil­lion yen ($78,000) from his tem­ple on Mount Koya, a World Her­itage Site also known as Koy­asan that is 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.

“If you work as a monk, too of­ten you work with­out workhour man­age­ment,” he said.

“You pro­vide la­bor, but you are told it’s part of re­li­gious train­ing. And if it’s train­ing, you must en­dure even it causes you sig­nif­i­cant hard­ship.”

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 la­bor 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.

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 la­bor bureau, which ac­knowl­edged that the long stretch of work days with­out hol­i­days met the def­i­ni­tion of over­work.

Over­work is a ma­jor prob­lem in Ja­pan, and death by over­work is a rec­og­nized phe­nom­e­non that even has its own word in Ja­panese — “karoshi”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.