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Arbitrary Dissolution of Any Religion Looming

Tomihiro Tanaka

Persecution in Japan follows pattern where arbitrary dissolution of any religion becomes perfectly possible

CESNUR conference points to looming arbitrary dissolution
From the CESNUR logo

A video message from Tomihiro Tanaka, President of the Family Federation (FFWPU) of Japan, on 13th June, the second day of the 2024 CESNUR Conference, during session 8 (plenary, chaired by Dr. Eileen Barker), which had the theme “The Unification Church and Japan: What Is Exactly Happening?”

The 2024 CESNUR Conference was held from 12th to 15th June at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne in Bordeaux, France with the theme: “The Contribution of Minority Religions to Society”. The conference was co-organized by: Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), Université Bordeaux Montaigne – CLIMAS (Cultures et littératures des mondes Anglophones), and International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR).

Respected Dr. Massimo Introvigne, Dr. Eileen Barker, distinguished presenters and participants at this CESNUR Conference,

ICCPROn behalf of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Japan, it is my great honor to greet you on the occasion of this CESNUR Conference. I have a deep respect and appreciation for the history of the efforts of the Europeans to gain religious freedom, which is now guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. I know that the road to obtaining this has been a long and winding one. I am deeply impressed by the ongoing efforts for this critical issue even to this day.

Now, at this conference, I regret that I must speak on the situation of the violations of religious freedom in Japan, the outlandish social, political, and legal attacks on our organization. As you may know, our organization was founded by the renowned religious leader couple, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon and his wife Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, both of whom were born in what is now North Korea. We were well known by our former name, the Unification Church, which they founded in 1954. Although our faith movement is largely based on our founders’ original biblical understanding, it also features a unique integration of elements of the Korean culture and tradition.

Bong-choon Choi, Family Federation hero passed away 24th Feb. 2023. Photo from 1965
The Korean who brought the Unification Church to Japan: Bong-choon Choi (1936-2023), aka. Sang-ik Choi. Photo (1965): FFWPU

It was in 1958, in the midst of the challenges of the post-World War II era, that our founders sent a missionary to Japan. The first worship service was held with a congregation of two members. By the grace of God, the number of members has now grown to over 600,000. It was not easy for a Korean-born religious organization to expand in Japan, where the two countries have had a historically complicated relationship. Furthermore, after we launched the Victory Over Communism movement to defend our nation from communist expansionism, we came under heavy attack from them.

Lawyers, communist sympathisers, professional faith-breakers, and even Christian pastors began illegally abducting and coercing our members to abandon their faith in our church. To date, there have been more than 4,300 victims of this criminal activity. Yes, it is true that the well-publicized joint weddings and the enthusiasm of our young members have caused concerns for parents. Our founders, however, never resented them, rather, they encouraged Japanese members to love the world with the heart of a mother. Many female missionaries voluntarily took on missions in countries throughout the world. I am deeply grateful for their contribution to the establishment of a global mission foundation.

Assassinated on 8th July 2022. Here, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe some months earlier, in March 2022. Photo: English: United States Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

The murder of the respected former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greatly shocked our members. Right after the police reported that the murderer’s motive was “a strong grudge against the Family Federation to which his mother belonged”, the Japanese media, in collusion with the forces opposed to the Family Federation, launched a relentless attack on us. This is reminiscent of the witch hunts of the European Middle Ages.

Let me make it perfectly clear: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not our member. Therefore, there was no reason for someone to kill him because of us. It has now been almost two years since the killer was arrested, but the details of his motive, how the homemade gun he used was made, etc, have not been disclosed, and the trial has not even begun.

Nevertheless, since Mr. Abe’s murder, our church members have suffered greatly in their hearts and in their daily life. I have received numerous reports of members not being able to rent flats or find employment. Media attacks have expanded to target associated organizations such as the Universal Peace Federation, the Women’s Federation for World Peace and the Youth and Students for Peace. Attacks also soon began against conservative lawmakers who have had relations with UPF and VOC.

Kazuo Shii with new admissions
Declared the ‘final war’ against the Unification Church: Kazuo Shii, here 30th March 2023. Photo: Attribution: 首相官邸ホームページ / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 4.0 Int. Cropped

The Family Federation issue thus changed from being a social one to a political one. The Japanese Communist Party chairman even stated publicly that “This is the final war against the Unification Church.”

In this context, on 19th October 2022, Prime Minister Kishida accelerated the government’s attack on the Family Federation by forcing a change in the interpretation of the law. The secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) instructed to his party’s parliamentarians to eliminate all ties with us and our related organizations. He then even conducted an investigation into the thought and belief of each and every parliamentarian regarding their association with us.

Tokyo headquarters
In danger of being grabbed by the state: Tokyo headquarters of the Family Federation of Japan. Photo: Asanagi / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

A request for the dissolution order of the Family Federation was made to the Court in October 2023. Court hearings then began on 22nd February this year. You will hear more detailed information about this from our lawyer Tatsuki Nakayama. A dissolution order is a death sentence for a religious corporation as an organization. If it were to be issued, all corporate assets would be forfeited to the State following the dissolution. Such a dissolution order would be a major setback for freedom of religion in Japan and would increase State control and pressure on all religious activities.

Furthermore, because all religious organizations find themselves in some kind of civil trouble, a dissolution order could be arbitrarily applied by the government to any religious corporation. Recently, several religious organizations have become aware of this issue and have expressed their opposition to the dissolution of the Family Federation.

You may be aware of the charitable status case in England in 1984, which the Unification Church won. The result highlighted the balanced and reasoned approach of European courts of law. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the Japanese court will make such a well-reasoned decision. This is because historically we do not have such a presumption of religious freedom in Japan. I like the words of Gamaliel, the leader of the Pharisees in Acts 5, during a trial of early Christians. He said,

“[…] Leave these men alone! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is from God, you will only find yourselves fighting against God!”

Dear participants, the loss of religious freedom will surely bring us an intolerant and hostile society. I am very concerned that this could come about not only in Japan but also throughout the world. Just as particular flowers express their own unique beauty, I hope that Japan and the world will embrace diversity and create a society where people live together with mutual understanding and respect. How wonderful it will be if kindness, beyond differences of faith, prevails in the world!

May you have a fruitful conference. Thank you very much for listening.

(Slightly edited version of the speech)

Featured image above: Tomihiro Tanaka, here at press conference in Tokyo 7th Nov. 2023. Photo: Screenshot from live transmission by the Family Federation of Japan.

More about arbitrary dissolution: Japan Following the Way of China

And more about arbitrary dissolution: 12 Religious Freedom NGOs Denouncing Japan

Yet more about arbitrary dissolution: Japan: Threat to Religious Freedom

Still more about arbitrary dissolution: Protesting Misguided Japanese Government

Even more about arbitrary dissolution: Kishida Follows Anti-Family Federation Minister 

And yet more about arbitrary dissolution: Kishida Singling Out Religion to Win Election

And still more about arbitrary dissolution: Arbitrary Populist Measures Against Religion

And even more about arbitrary dissolution: Government Changing the Law Overnight

Still more about arbitrary dissolution: Claims: Government Acting Illegally

And still more about arbitrary dissolution: Government Changing the Law Overnight

And even more about arbitrary dissolution: Call to End Witch Hunt

More about arbitrary dissolution: Mastermind of Awful Abuse as Advisor to Party

More about arbitrary dissolution: Sinister Plot of Hostile Lawyers Exposed

More about arbitrary dissolution: Lawyers Using Witnesses under Duress

More about arbitrary dissolution: Collusion to Rob Minority of Its Rights


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