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Authorities “Unaware” of Gross Rights Violations

Satoshi Hamada

When question brought up in Parliament, Japanese authorities claim to be unaware of gross rights violations

On May 13, 2024, Satoshi Hamada (浜田 聡 – member of the House of Councillors, the Upper House in the National Diet of Japan since 2019) asked several questions to the parliamentary Administrative Oversight Committee concerning the current case at Tokyo District Court about the Kishida administration’s request for a court order to dissolve the Family Federation of Japan.

Hamada’s questions are seen as an attempt to point out important perspectives that are missing from the authorities’ and the media’s one-sided, biased handling of the case. The apparent bias is seen by many as seriously endangering the court’s impartiality in its crucial decision-making process.

Part 2 of Satoshi Hamada’s questions

See part 1, part 3

Committee member Satoshi Hamada continued his questioning,

Religious Corporations Act of Japan
Front page of 2018 English version of Religious Corporations Act of Japan.

“Regarding the dissolution order for religious corporations, it is very narrowly defined under Article 81, Paragraph 1, Item 1 of the Religious Corporations Act as acts that are clearly recognized to violate laws and regulations and significantly harm public welfare. I understand that, in practice, dissolution orders have only been applied in two cases: Aum Shinrikyo (オウム真理教) and Myokakuji Temple (明覚寺).

I believe the change in interpretation by Prime Minister Kishida during the 2022, House of Councilors Budget Committee is problematic.”

The background to Satoshi Hamada’s question here is the fact that in the 2022 Senate Budget Committee, Prime Minister Kishida reinterpreted the Religious Corporations Act. This has become a contentious issue.

Civil Code of Japan vol 1
An English exact reproduction of The Civil Code of Japan, vol. 1, 4th edition, first published 1906.

During the committee session, he unexpectedly changed the government’s legal interpretation, suggesting that unlawful acts under civil law could now be considered grounds for dissolution of religious organizations. Specifically, he stated that a dissolution order against the former Unification Church is “possible”. This sudden shift in interpretation has raised concerns.

Hamada went on,

Specifically, there existed a Cabinet decision that a dissolution order could not be requested against the former Unification Church due to the absence of criminal penalties. Still, Prime Minister Kishida’s stated that civil law torts are also included in the requirements for requesting a dissolution order. Thereby he changed the legal interpretation overnight. This is a significant issue.

There are numerous claims that the interpretation was forcibly changed in order to issue a dissolution order against the former Unification Church in order to maintain the Cabinet’s approval ratings. No effective rebuttal has been made against these claims. I hope the courts will take this point into consideration.

Furthermore, if this case leads to the possibility of dissolving religious corporations not only for criminal cases but also for civil cases, I believe many religious corporations will live in fear of dissolution in the future.

To all those involved in religious affairs, I hope you will take note of this.

Next, regarding the Family Federation, an issue that I believe should be addressed in the Diet (parliament), is the problem of forced renunciation of faith (forced de-conversion, forced apostasy, deprogramming, faith-breaking). ‘Renunciation of faith’ means to abandon one’s religious teachings.

This involves malicious methods by which the families of members of the Family Federation forcibly try to make them leave the organization, such as by abduction and confining them with the intent to make them renounce their faith.

According to statements by the Family Federation, there have been 4,300 such cases.

This issue has also been brought up in the Diet in the past.

Hitoshi Hinokida asking about gross rights violations
Dr. Hitoshi Hinokida (1942-2016). Won Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 as a principal member of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Worked with Mother Theresa 1980-1990. Member of House of Representatives in Japan 1996-2000. Photo (2000): Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion.

On 22nd April 2000, during a session of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Audit and Oversight of Administration, Representative Hitoshi Hinokida (桧田仁議 ) of the Liberal Democratic Party raised this issue.

I have prepared the minutes from that session for reference. It mentions how the U.S. State Department criticized the Japanese police for not addressing this issue.

I hope you will review it. First, I would like to ask the National Police Agency: Regarding the troubles that arise from the forced renunciation of faith and the abduction and confinement of Family Federation members, could you please tell us what the National Police Agency is aware of?

Kazuhito Shinka (親家和仁), who currently serves as Deputy Director-General in the National Police Agency Commissioner’s Secretariat, replied,

“I would like to respond to your question. Regarding the occurrence of crimes against former members of the former Unification Church, we have investigated to the extent possible within the Public Prosecutor’s Office. However, we have not been able to confirm any cases reported by prefectural police departments.”

Continued in part 3.

See part 1, part 3

Featured image above: Satoshi Hamada (浜田 聡), member of the House of Councillors, the Upper House in the National Diet of Japan since 2019). Photo: Sekai Nippo

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