Members of religious groups and other citizens sued the government on Monday, claiming that planned public spending on ceremonies involving the enthronement of Crown Prince Naruhito next year violates the constitutional principle of separation of religion and politics.

The 241 plaintiffs including Christians and Buddhists filed the lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court, seeking damages of ¥10,000 per person and an injunction against the spending.

In their complaint, they claim that Sokui no Rei ceremonies and the Daijosai ritual featuring the new Emperor and the year’s harvest “give a mythological explanation of Japan’s establishment and structure and mean there is a connection between Japanese people and a transcendent existence through state Shinto rituals conducted by the Emperor.”

The spending of public money on the ceremonies breaches the constitutional principle and puts psychological pressure on people believing in religions other than Shinto, they said.

“The courts have to stop the government and the legislative” branch, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs told a news conference after filing the lawsuit, expressing hope for “a proper constitutional judgment.”

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