Otani Sonyu (大谷尊由)
Sonyu OTANI (August 19, 1886 - August 1, 1939) was a priest and statesman of Jodo shinshu (the True Pure Land sect of Buddhism).
He was born in Kyoto City as the fourth son of Koson OTANI (Meinyo), the twenty-first chief priest of the Jodo Shinshu sect's Hongan-ji school. His elder brother was the twenty-second chief priest, Kozui OTANI (Kyonyo), and his younger sister was Takeko KUJO. Together with his brother, they were known as knowledgeable, and early on they gained the respect of people such as Shinpei GOTO.
When he came of age, he assisted his elder brother's religious administration, and he successively filled various posts such as the head regent of Hongan-ji Temple, the head of the Hongan-ji school's Gojikai (an association to defend Buddhism) Foundation, the chief abbot office clerk (the deputy chief abbot), etc. In the meantime, he led his men who were engaged in campaign and missionary work at the Russo-Japanese War, and he often expressed sympathy for the soldiers in locations throughout China. He led many reforms of the religious community, and backed up the Otani Expedition financially, but consequently he left a large debt to the community.
In 1914, though he was expected to become the next chief priest in place of his elder brother, who resigned his position due to a case of suspected bribery, he was also involved with the case himself and retired from the front line of the religious world.
In 1928, he became a member of the House of Peers by imperial selection and was designated as the minister of Colonial Ministry (Takumu-sho) of the first Konoe cabinet; in 1938, he was assigned the post of Naikaku sangi (advisor to the cabinet). Because he frequently traveled to the Chinese mainland with his elder brother and had an in-depth knowledge of the country, in 1938 he was installed as the first director-general of a national policy concern, Kita Shina Kaihatsu Kabushikigaisha (a company established to develop the Chinese economy during the era of the Great Japanese Empire). However, in 1939 he died of illness at 54 years of age, with his life's ambition still unfulfilled.