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Disinformation and False Claims in Court Case

Weighty arguments in court

Disinformation and false claims used against religious minority in dissolution case 

Tomihiro Tanaka exposing false claims
Tomihiro Tanaka, President of the Family Federation in Japan. Here at press conference 7th November 2023 in Tokyo. Photo: FFWPU

Part 3 of the English version of statement by President Tomihiro Tanaka, President of the Family Federation (FFWPU) of Japan, at the Tokyo District Court on 22nd February 2024. Published with permission.

See part 1, part 2

In discussing the issues related to our church, the next unavoidable matter is the National Network of Lawyers against Spiritual Sales (NNLASS). This association, formed by lawyers affiliated with the Social Democratic Party [formerly the Socialist Party (JSP)] and the Japan Communist Party, has pursued the dissolution of our church for political reasons since its [NNLASS] establishment in 1987.

Our church and its affiliated group, the International Federation for Victory Over Communism (IFVOC), have advocated against the threat of communism, worked to prevent the leftward shift in Japan, and actively promoted the enactment of spy prevention legislation. NNLASS aimed to thwart these activities. They adopted the principle of “any means justifying the end” and closely collaborated with deprogrammers behind the scenes. They utilized former believers who had lost their faith through deprogramming by means of abduction and confinement as plaintiffs in legal battles against our church.

Moreover, the courts adopted a policy of admitting the claims of NNLASS and testimonies of apostates as truthful unless our church could prove the falseness. Consequently, our church faced a series of defeat judgments over an extended period.

However, our church finally succeeded in proving the falsehood of their claims and testimonies, achieving complete victories in two civil cases in 2021. In one of these cases, our church proved not only the falseness of the plaintiffs’ claims and testimonies, but also the fact that the evidence submitted by the plaintiffs to the court was fabricated. On July 7, 2022, the Tokyo High Court delivered a complete victory judgment for our church in one of the two cases. It seemed that this brought an end to the history of legal battles orchestrated by the NNLASS using false claims and testimonies.

Hiroshi Yamaguchi, one of militant lawyers
Hiroshi Yamaguchi, activist leftwing lawyer and leading member of National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales. Photo: Screenshot / Bitter Winter

Since the Compliance Declaration of our church, the number of complaints against our church has dramatically decreased. Attorney Hiroshi Yamaguchi, the secretary-general of the NNLASS, provided an article titled “Increasing Complaints from Growing Small Groups” to the July 2022 issue of the monthly magazine “Consumer Law News”, and in the article, he explicitly mentions a reduction in consultations related to the former Unification Church and an increase in complaints concerning small religious groups that were previously unheard of.

However, on July 8, 2022, a shooting incident involving the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe occurred, and the NNLASS held a press conference, announcing exaggerated figures regarding our church. They claimed that the number of “consultations” received about our church over the past 35 years was approximately 34,000, and the “amount of damages” exceeded 120 billion yen. On October 12, 2023, the day before MEXT [Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology] filed the request for dissolution to the court, it announced the “number of damages” was approximately 1,600 cases and amount of damages was around 22.6 billion yen since 1980.

The figures released by NNLASS show an exaggerated difference, approximately 20 times in terms of the number of cases and six times in terms of the amount. Even the “scale of damages” announced by MEXT includes numerous amounts of cases which were resolved through negotiation, settlements, or compromises, “damages” MEXT claims are deviating significantly from the actual nature of the “damages”. This clearly indicates how NNLASS engaged in exaggerated and distorted announcements. Their purpose of spreading disinformation through the media must be gaining new clients, and ultimately achieving their long-standing goal of our church‘s dissolution.

Ideally, the government should not be influenced by such one-sided announcements. However, on August 31, 2022, Prime Minister Kishida declared a severance with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification as the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Most believers of our church work like ordinary individuals in regular companies, hospitals, banks, and even at the national and local government levels.

If attempts were made to execute such a severance declaration, every member of LDP in the parliament would need to verify the ideology and beliefs of every person encountered in their daily lives and sever ties upon discovering them to be followers of our church. Such a severance declaration is clearly discriminatory based on ideology and religious beliefs, violating the spirit of Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution. Additionally, it also violates Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits the advocacy of religious hatred.

Yasuhiro Nakasone
Yasuhiro Nakasone (1918-2019), Japanese Prime Minister 1982-1987. Photo: 首相官邸ホームページ / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 4.0 Int

During parliamentary questioning in 1987, then-Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, when pressured by Communist Party members to sever ties with IFVOC, stated, “It is a serious infringement on freedom of thought and action,” and emphasized that it was a manifestation of the Communist Party’s dictatorial policies. He asserted, “Statements that violate the Constitution by infringing on freedom of thought and action should be refrained from.” If Prime Minister Kishida had similarly announced such a reasonable stance, there would have been no issue. Moreover, such a situation would not have escalated to the extreme measure of filing a dissolution request against our church.

Prime Minister Kishida has created an irreversible situation through the severance declaration. Overnight, he changed the legal interpretation of the dissolution grounds, compelling the previously reluctant MEXT [Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology] to enforce an illegal exercise of questioning rights. Moreover, based on this undue interpretation change, he finally proceeded to file a dissolution request, falling squarely into the hands of NNLASS. In the first place, it is unavoidable to describe the situation as extremely abnormal when a former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated by the bullets of a terrorist, and the nation, as the perpetrator desires, mobilizes all its powers to actively strive for the dissolution of our church.

In the current dissolution request lawsuit, MEXT claims that many victims have emerged because of our church and submitted 257 testimonies. Excluding family members, lawyers, and others, the total number of deponents is 233. Considering that our church membership is 600,000, with approximately 120,000 active members attending worship at least once a month, allowing dissolution based on the dissatisfaction of these 233 individuals is unforgivable. Furthermore, the majority of the incidents that these 233 individuals supposedly complained about have already been resolved.

Loudspeaker van in Japan
Loudspeaker van of the kind used to blast hostile messages outside Family Federation premises in Japan. Photo: FFWPU

Since the shooting incident, our church has faced various damages due to one-sided critical reporting by the media, hindrance of business activities through right-wing loudspeaker demonstrations, threatening phone calls, threatening emails, graffiti on church facilities, refusal of package deliveries by courier services, refusal of orders by florists, refusal of sales by automobile dealerships, and more. Additionally, 19 instances of refusal to accept donation funds, including bazaar proceeds, from public institutions have occurred, and some institutions that previously received donation funds have returned them. The recent earthquake damage on the Noto peninsula also saw a refusal of relief donations.

Furthermore, believers of our church have experienced discriminatory treatment reminiscent of “non-citizens” during wartime, enduring bullying in schools and workplaces, persecution from non-believing family members, refusal of medical treatment at hospitals, eviction requests from rental properties, depression, and suicides among believers, resulting in incomprehensible and severe damages.

Additionally, thousands of believers residing in Japan through international marriages from 95 countries around the world see the church as more than just a place of faith; it serves as a crucial support in their social lives. The prospect of losing this support due to the dissolution of the organization is an extraordinary source of anxiety for them. If, by any chance, the dissolution request is granted, it poses a risk of even more significant human rights violations and extensive harm.

In the courts, we earnestly request a thorough understanding of the essence of this dissolution request and an impartial judgment.

This concludes our statement.

See part 1, part 2

Featured image above: Weighty arguments on scale of justice presented by Tomihiro Tanaka in Tokyo District Court. Photo: 991joseph / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image

“Disinformation and False Claims in Court Case” – text: Tomihiro Tanaka

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