Photo/IllutrationGuardians of students of Tomakomai Komazawa University hold a news conference in Tokyo on July 10 after the students filed a suit earlier in the day. (Ryota Goto)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Eight students of a Buddhist university in Hokkaido are seeking higher intervention to stop the planned transfer of their university's charter to a school operator affiliated with Confucianism.

In a suit filed on July 10 with the Tokyo District Court, the students of Tomakomai Komazawa University asked the education ministry not to approve the transfer to Kyoto Ikueikan, which operates Kyoto College of Nursing and other schools.

“We chose this university to become Buddhist priests. If (the charter of) the university is transferred to a Confucianism-affiliated school operator, we will not be able to obtain qualifications (to become Buddhist priests),” the students said.

The university, located in Tomakomai, southern Hokkaido, belongs to the Soto School of Buddhism. If the university’s students majoring in Buddhism complete the coursework, they can obtain part of their qualifications, according to the religious affairs agency of Soto School.

According to the eight students’ bill of complaint and other sources, Komazawa University, based in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, asked the education ministry in March to change the operator of the Tomakomai Komazawa University to Kyoto Ikueikan because of financial difficulties.

In August, the ministry is expected to decide whether to allow the change.

Guardians of the students held a news conference on July 10 after the suit was filed with the court earlier in the day.

“We suddenly learned (about the transfer of the university’s charter) from TV news," said Kojin Narusawa, 58, father of a 19-year-old student. "My son is worried about it.”

His son plans to succeed his temple in Kushiro, eastern Hokkaido. However, the prospect is now unclear.

“We are receiving no explanations from the university,” Narusawa said angrily.

Komazawa University declined comment, saying, “We cannot comment because we have yet to confirm the bill of complaint.”

The religious affairs agency of Soto School said, “We want Tomakomai Komazawa University to remain as an institution that produces Buddhist priests. But it is an agonizing problem.”