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“Black Propaganda” as Cover for Criminal Acts

Haruhisa Nakagawa exposing black propaganda

Japanese Christian leader claims “black propaganda” engineered by activist lawyers serves as cover for criminal acts of abduction and confinement.

The logo of JINF

28th February 2024, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals (JINF) in the “Speaking out” section on its website published an article titled “Religious Believers Should Not Acquiesce to Religious Freedom Violations”. It was written by Rev. Haruhisa Nakagawa (中川晴久), Pastor of Christian Church of the Lord’s Sheep (主の羊クリスチャン教会), Executive Secretary of Tokyo Christian Theological Institute, President of Japan Christian Theological Institute. Original article. He conducted an undercover investigation of the Unification Church in 2012.

Masahito Moriyama victim of black propaganda
Masahito Moriyama. Photo: 文部科学省 / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 4.0 Int. Cropped

Nakagawa points out that Education Minister Masahito Moriyama (盛山正仁) has staunchly denied any affiliation with the Unification Church, despite receiving support from an association affiliated with the church in past election campaigns. Some now claim that members of the Unification Church who provided this support feel abandoned by Moriyama and have retaliated by disclosing their past connections with him to the media.

The conflict stems from the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on 8th July 2022, by a terrorist with anti-Unification Church sentiments. Due to the negative media coverage the church received, and fear of it affecting the support for his party, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declared officially that his governing party was cutting all ties with the Unification Church on 31st August of the same year.

Subsequently, the government has, according to Nakagawa, manipulated legal interpretations, including retroactively applying a reinterpretation of requirements for dissolving religious corporations under the Religious Corporation Act to include civil law violations. On 13th October 2023, the government filed a dissolution order request for the church with the Tokyo District Court without any formal cabinet decision or documented meeting minutes regarding this reinterpretation. Nakagawa describes the Kishida administration’s sudden relentless pursuit to dissolve the church,

“The government has tried desperately to dissolve the church in accordance with the terrorist’s aspiration, leaving the matter confused and out of control.”

Yoshifu Arita
Yoshifu Arita (有田芳生), former communist politician. Photo: 碧庵 / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 3.0 Unp. Cropped

The Christian leader claims that the Unification Church has faced exaggerated criticism, particularly from a limited pool of sources initially. Tabloid TV shows featured hostile activist journalist Eito Suzuki (鈴木エイト)  and other activists such as former House of Councilors member Yoshifu Arita (有田芳生) from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, Masaki Kito (紀藤正樹) from the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (全国霊感商法被害対策弁連), and Kimiaki Nishida (西田公昭) from the Japan Society for Cult Prevention and Recovery, who all consistently voiced opposition to the Unification Church. These individuals have long been associated with anti-Unification Church sentiments, leading to the perception that they were all essentially echoing one and the same viewpoint through “different mouths”.

Nakagawa makes clear that he has held his own critical stance towards the Unification Church for over 25 years, but has been skeptical of the information provided by Suzuki and others, which often seemed biased, exaggerated, and erroneous. It appears that the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales has a distinct left-leaning inclination, and the issue of the Unification Church seems to have been politically exploited within this context.

An important yet overlooked aspect of the National Network of Lawyers deserves attention. Haruhisa Nakagawa writes,

“In fact, the network has deep connections with perpetrators involved in the abduction and confinement of Unification Church followers. So far, more than 4,300 people have been confirmed as victims of confinement. After having their faith broken, the confinees have sued the Unification Church to demonstrate their apostasy [that they have left the faith], accumulating the number of court cases involving the church. Faith is at the core of religious believers’ personality, and forcibly taking it away through confinement is unacceptable.”

Nakagawa shares his insights from years’ of study and claims that the crux of the matter lies in the association of abduction and confinement with what is known as “black propaganda” – information campaigns characterized by exaggerations and distortions [propaganda that gives the impression that it was created by those it aims to discredit]. By branding the Unification Church as a “cult”, continuously damaging its social standing, and amplifying negative perceptions, this “black propaganda” has sought to justify abduction and confinement under the guise of “rescuing” individuals. It is imperative that we do not endorse such black propaganda, especially when it serves as a cover for criminal acts like abduction and confinement. Instead, we should acknowledge the positive aspects of the Unification Church and work towards restoring its reputation.

Furthermore, the government’s current actions constitute a violation of the religious freedom of a particular religious organization and an attempt to strip it of its political participation rights. Surprisingly, Japan’s religious community has remained largely silent in response to these developments. Allowing the government to continue unchecked in this regard will inevitably lead to the deterioration of the religious landscape. If religion declines, Japan risks losing its valuable spiritual and cultural heritage. Such a consequence cannot be tolerated.

Japan Institute for National Fundamentals (国家基本問題研究所 – Kokka Kihon Mondai Kenkyūjo or Kokkiken – 国基研) is a privately funded think tank. Since its founding in 2007, it has addressed issues as energy, defense and international relations.

Featured image above: Haruhisa Nakagawa, Tokyo Christian Theological Institute Executive Secretary, President of Japan Christian Theological Institute. Photo: Haruhisa Nakagawa. Published with permission.

“Black propaganda as cover for criminal acts” text: Rev. Haruhisa Nakagawa

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