Home Feature News Why is Japan searching for the dissolution of the controversial Unification Church?...

Why is Japan searching for the dissolution of the controversial Unification Church? | CNN


Tokyo, Japan

Japan’s authorities on Friday requested a court docket to order the dissolution of the Unification Church department in Japan following the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in July 2022.

The federal government’s transfer comes after a months-long probe into the church, formally recognized in Japan because the Household Federation for World Peace and Unification.

The investigation adopted claims by the suspected shooter, Tetsuya Yamagami, that he fatally shot Abe as a result of he believed the chief was related to the church, which Yamagami blamed for bankrupting his household by way of the extreme donations of his mom, a member.

Earlier in January, Japanese prosecutors indicted Yamagami on homicide and firearm prices.

The federal government’s investigation concluded that the group’s practices – together with fund-raising actions that allegedly pressured followers to make exorbitant donations – violated the 1951 Spiritual Companies Act.

That legislation permits Japanese courts to order the dissolution of a non secular group if it has dedicated an act “clearly discovered to hurt public welfare considerably.”

The Tokyo District Courtroom will now make a judgment based mostly on the proof submitted by the federal government, in accordance with Japan’s public broadcaster NHK.

That is the third time the Japanese authorities has sought a dissolution order for a non secular group accused of violating the act.

It additionally sought to dissolve the Aum Shinrikyo cult, after a few of its members carried out a lethal 1995 sarin gasoline assault on the Tokyo subway system, which left dozens useless and 1000’s injured, and Myokaku-ji Temple, whose clergymen defrauded individuals by charging them for exorcisms. The courts dominated with the federal government on each orders.

The Unification Church in Japan has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, pledging reform and labeling the information protection towards it as “biased” and “pretend.”

On Thursday, it issued a press release, saying it was “very regrettable” that the federal government was searching for the dissolution order, significantly because it had been “engaged on reforming the church” since 2009. It added that it will make authorized counterarguments towards the order in court docket.

If disbanded, the Unification Church, based by the Reverend Solar Myung Moon in South Korea in 1954, would lose its standing as a non secular company in Japan and be disadvantaged of tax advantages. Nevertheless, it might nonetheless function as a company entity.

Specialists argue that an order to disband the group utterly might take years to course of and will even danger pushing the entity’s actions underground.

Police have concept about what motivated Shinzo Abe homicide suspect

The Unification Church turned recognized worldwide for mass weddings, wherein 1000’s of {couples} get married concurrently, with some brides and grooms assembly their betrothed for the primary time on their wedding ceremony day.

Public scrutiny of the church in Japan elevated after Abe was fatally shot throughout an election marketing campaign speech final July.

Abe’s alleged assailant advised police that his household had been ruined due to the large donations his mom made to a non secular group, which he alleged had shut ties to the late former prime minister, in accordance with NHK.

A spokesperson for the Unification Church confirmed to reporters in Tokyo that the suspect’s mom was a member, Reuters reported, however stated neither Abe nor the suspected killer have been members.

Following Abe’s demise native media carried a sequence of reviews claiming varied different lawmakers of the nation’s ruling social gathering had hyperlinks to the church, prompting Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to order an investigation.

Kishida advised reporters Thursday that ruling social gathering lawmakers had minimize ties with the non secular group, amid considerations that the Unification Church had been attempting to wield political affect.

Since final November, Japan’s Ministry of Cultural Affairs has questioned and sought to acquire paperwork from the Unification Church whereas additionally accumulating testimonies from round 170 individuals who say they have been pressured into making large donations recognized in Japan as “religious gross sales.”

The observe entails asking followers to purchase objects like urns and amulets on the grounds that doing so will appease their ancestors and save future generations, in accordance with Sakurai Yoshihid, a non secular research knowledgeable at Hokkaido College.

CNN has contacted the Unification Church for an official remark however has not but heard again.

This isn’t the primary time the Unification Church has been on the middle of an issue.

Naomi Honma, a former Unification Church member, advised CNN that between 1991 and 2003, she labored on a authorized case referred to as “Give Us Again Our Youth,” a lawsuit that alleged the Unification Church had used misleading and manipulative methods to recruit unsuspecting members of the general public.

This, they argued, had the potential to violate the liberty of thought and conscience upheld by Article 20 of Japan’s structure.

After a 14-year trial, a number of plaintiff testimonies and a 999-page report outlining the “thoughts management” strategy of the group, the trial had its second.

The Sapporo District Courtroom made a landmark ruling in favor of 20 former Unification Church members who had sued the group as a part of the case. It ordered the Unification Church to pay roughly 29.5 million yen ($200,000) in damages for recruiting and indoctrinating individuals “whereas hiding the church’s true id” and for “coercing some former members into buying costly gadgets and donating giant quantities of cash.”

In a separate controversy, between 1987 and 2021, the Unification Church in Japan incurred claims for damages over the sale of amulets and urns that totaled round $1 billion, in accordance to the Nationwide Attorneys Community towards Religious Gross sales – a gaggle established in 1987 particularly to oppose the Unification Church.

Nobutaka Inoue, an knowledgeable on modern Japanese faith at Kokugakuin College, is essential of the methods utilized by the church to recruit and lift funds. Nevertheless, he additionally notes that a few of its members felt pleased and at peace after making donations to the Unification Church.

Some critics of the Unification Church say the federal government’s actions don’t go far sufficient because it might nonetheless function as a non-religious group. One possibility for the federal government could be to hunt a court docket order stripping the church of its company standing, too, however consultants say that might take as much as two years to course of.

Sakurai, the non secular research knowledgeable, cautioned that if the Unification Church loses its standing as a non secular company, it will now not be below the management of Japan’s Ministry of Training and Cultural Affairs, making it tougher to control its actions.

Sakurai pointed to the case of Aum, noting that after the sarin gasoline assault the Japanese authorities revoked recognition of the group as a non secular group however continued to control it by way of a brand new legislation handed in 1999 that approved continued police surveillance of its actions.

However making a brand new legislation that might enable the federal government to proceed to observe over the Unification Church’s actions – even when one may very well be handed – wouldn’t work as nicely, Sakurai warned.

“(Aum) solely numbers over 1,200 members or so; nonetheless, the Unification Church has penetrated many layers of Japan’s society – some members are housewives, some work in factories, others are lecturers, so the police can not watch all of the actions or actions of the Unification Church,” Sakurai stated.

Some consultants say Japan must do extra to teach the general public about non-traditional religions, which some see as having a rising affect in society.

Kimiaki Nishida, a social psychologist and chairman of the Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Restoration (JSCPR), identified that state and faith have been separated in Japan following World Conflict II, and the brand new structure forbade instructing non secular research in school.

This made faith primarily a taboo matter, Nishida stated, and to at the present time, non secular training is just not offered at elementary, junior, or excessive colleges in Japan, in contrast to in most EU member states.

This, in accordance with Toshiyuki Tachikake, a professor at Osaka College specializing in cult countermeasures since 2009, has left college students – significantly at college campuses – susceptible to being pressured into recruitment.

He and different consultants say extra ought to be finished to teach younger Japanese about faith.

“We’d like non secular training in colleges. Giving somebody a broad understanding of various religions and their teachings permits them to make an knowledgeable resolution on whether or not they wish to be part of a sure group if a recruiter ever approached them,” stated Tachikake.

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