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Author: Japan’s “Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion”

Fumihiro Kato

Japanese author puts spotlight on social exclusion of members of religious minority reduced to second-class citizens

What was the reporting intended to convey? Report with data on the hounding of the Unification Church

a presentation by Fumihiro Kato (加藤文宏), writer, author and  and photographer, at a symposium on the theme “Why Did Reporting Go Astray? Thorough Examination by Journalists on Reporting on the Former Unification Church”, (organized by UPF-Japan) held 20th January 2024 in Tokyo to investigate the media’s continued coverage persecuting the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly known as the Unification Church).

Part 1, see part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

on social exclusion
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

I intend to examine the media coverage hounding the Unification Church by looking at the data and asking, “What was the intention of the reporting, and what was being conveyed?” I hope that it can become evidence for both of you.

First, let me provide some background. Since the summer of 2022, I have been interviewing members of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (the former Unification Church). These believers have expressed concerns, stating,

  • “The mass media only adopts one-sided testimonies.”
  • “The reports criticize the government while using the Unification Church and its followers, saying that the church is evil.”
  • “As a result of being used in this way, our faith has been exposed and made public, and we have been excluded from places of civic life.”
  • “There are even movements to limit our right to political participation, and violations of privacy and human rights occur.”

They believe that these issues are a result of the media running wild.

Social exclusion
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

The human rights violations against the followers were carried out under the premise that “a good society is the victim” and “let’s exclude the evil church and its followers because they are the perpetrators.” It was stated that “the assassin is the victim,” and “ordinary citizens are also victims.” The situation where “followers are excluded from society because they are dangerous and abhorrent” reminds us of apartheid, which separated whites and non-whites.

Religious freedom in Japan
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

It’s not just the followers who point out that they have been excluded from society. In the “Report on International Religious Freedom” by the U.S. State Department, which is responsible for managing the country’s foreign policy, the history of the hounding of the Unification Church after the assassination of Shinzo Abe is thoroughly covered, along with issues of persecution of the Uighurs and Rohingyas. Furthermore, an organization with Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations quoted a statement asserting that “the followers have become victims of intolerance, discrimination and persecution.” The statement was quoted as alarming as it has become a Japanese social problem.

By the way, in Japan, if you speak or write about the same content as this State Department report, you tend to be called “tsubo” (壺(ツボ)– pot, word used to mock followers) or “zubuzubu” (‘corrupt relationships not easy to cut’ or ‘deeply involved’) and your opportunities for speech are likely to be taken away. Entertainer Hikari Ota (太田光) has also been called a spokesperson for the religious organization. Until now, we have worked to solve human rights issues, such as discrimination and hate, as social problems. Regardless of the background, the side that discriminates, the side that is discriminated, the side that watches, all are members of society, so it is a social problem.

What is happening to society
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

If, as a result of reporting out of control, discrimination and exclusion against believers have occurred due to information running wild, then this can be said to be a press disaster and an information disaster. An information disaster is a concept that attracted attention through studies of the rumors and damage that occurred in the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear accident, and questioning the causal relationship between rumors causing harm and the resulting damage. Natural disasters are caused by nature itself. Information disasters are caused by information. And it is the media that widely disseminates information to the public.

Continued in part 2, see part 3, part 4, part 5.

Fumihiro Kato (加藤文宏) has contributed to various media outlets, including opinion magazines. Under the pen name Fumi Kato (かとう ふみ), he has published works such as “Chushi Ruro” (厨師流浪 – Wandering Chef), “Kakai Fuki” (花開富貴 – Blossoming, Prosperous and Noble), and “Denko no Otoko” (電光の男 – Lightning Man). Last year, he contributed with an article titled “Can News and Talk Shows Determine Good and Evil?” in the February issue of Monthly Seiron (月刊正論), challenging the approach to reporting on the Unification Church.

Featured image above: Fumihiro Kato 20th January 2024 in Tokyo. Photo: Screenshot from video recording by UPF-Japan.

“Author: Japan’s ‘Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion’” – text: Fumihiro Kato

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And still more about social exclusion: Government’s Foul Play Pointed Out

And yet more about social exclusion: Scholar Condemns Violation of Minority Rights

And even more about social exclusion: State and Media Creating “Today’s Non-Citizens”

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