News and Insights

Focus on Donations in Tokyo Court Case

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Japanese news outlets report focus on donations on first day of hearings in Tokyo

Japan Times about focus on donations The Japan Times, the country’s largest and oldest English-language daily published 23rd Feb. 2024 a Kyodo News report on the first day of hearings in the case against the Family Federation (formerly called the Unification Church) brought by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) requesting the court to issue an order to dissolve the religious organization.

The paper writes that the request for a dissolution order is because of the “aggressive donation solicitation practices” of the former Unification Church, that has been a registered religious corporation in Japan since 1964.

In its coverage of the first day at Tokyo District Court 22nd February, the English-language newspaper states that the Kishida administration has based its request on “claims” that the religious organization “systematically and repeatedly solicited financially ruinous donations from followers.”

The Japan Times writes,

“The probe into the organization and testimony from victims and their family members led the government to conclude the church deviated significantly from the aims of a religious organization.

Tomihiro Tanaka, head of the Unification Church‘s Japan branch, told the session that the ministry’s view of the organization is mistaken, according to people who attended the hearing.”

Masumi Fukuda, investigative journalist
Masumi Fukuda speaking in Tokyo 20th Jan. 2024. Photo: Screenshot

An investigative journalist who shares Tanaka’s view that the authorities have been fed a distorted perception of the Family Federation, is Masumi Fukuda. She writes in the magazine Monthly Hanada February 2024 that the Kishida administration attack on the faith that originates in South Korea, is based on a media outcry about “victims”, largely masterminded and staged by a hostile leftwing organization of activist lawyers  – National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, an organization founded 37 years ago with a pronounced goal to do away with the Unification Church.

Fukuda writes,

“Opponents often criticize the high donations to the FFWPU, claiming condescendingly that “God doesn’t need money.” However, for religious organizations to fulfill these purposes, donations are essential. Actually, God does indeed need money.” (From “Myth and Reality of the ‘Spiritual Sales’”, Bitter Winter 29th January 2024.)

In addition, donations are the only source of income for non-profit religious corporations. Still, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) views systematic donation solicitation as deviating significantly from a religious organization’s purpose, a conclusion seen as shortsighted and lacking understanding of religious dynamics.

The Family Federation asserts that donations mainly support overseas missionary activities and educational expenses, aligning with the core purposes of religious corporations. They maintain that donation collection aims to support these activities rather than financial gain.

Logo of the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Public domain image

Investigative journalist Masumi Fukuda criticized the Agency for Cultural Affairs, a special body of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), for cooperating when examining the Family Federation, with the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (National Benren),

“The National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales teamed up with the Agency for Cultural Affairs and gave them instructions on what to do. It is highly questionable whether the Agency for Cultural Affairs, with a hostile organization as a collaborator, was able to make a neutral and fair decision. The claims of the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales are being passed on without being checked.” (Conference on Religious Freedom Violations”, Masumi Fukuda quoted in article in Tokyo paper Sekai Nippo 2nd Oct. 2023, translated from Japanese and republished by News and Insights)

Fukuda commented in June 2023 on what she calls “fraudulent lawsuits” filed against the Family Federation by the hostile network of lawyers,

“For almost all religions, including the former Unification Church, donations, endowments, and charitable gifts are expressions of piety and are offered willingly to God. […]

Unfortunately, however, even if the donors are convinced at the time of the donation that they are donating freely, as time goes by, their faith may wane. Their relatives may rush to the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales to recover the donation.

The donors may be persuaded by lawyers from the Communist Party of Japan or the former Socialist Party that they have been ‘deceived’, and a lawsuit against the religious organization for the return of the donation may follow. In fact, there are many cases in which relatives consulted with the Network on how to force the donors-believers to sue.” (The Plot to Destroy the Unification Church in Japan. 3. Fraudulent Lawsuits, written by Masumi Fukuda, published in Bitter Winter 26th June 2023.)

And yet, Fumio Kishida’s administration have to a large extent based its case against the Family Federation on claims by the network and their fraudulent lawsuits.

Massimo Introvigne
Dr. Massimo Introvigne, april 2023. Photo: FOREF

Putting pressure on members to make large donations. This is one of the standard allegations from the network of activist lawyers. And at the same time it has become one of the allegations the Japanese authorities base their witch hunt of the Family Federation on. Dr. Massimo Introvigne, a leading authority on religious freedom, criticizes such a claim, saying,

“In its general principles, the Unification Church’s theology of donations is surprisingly similar to its Catholic and Protestant counterparts. […]

Ultimately, the problem is theological and philosophical. For a believer, donations may be deep spiritual experiences. For an atheist, or somebody who believes that groups such as the Unification Church are not “real” religions, no caution would be good enough, and no donation would ever be recognized as the fruit of a free and reasonable choice.” (The Abe Assassination. Donations to the Unification Church: Separating Facts from Fiction, Bitter Winter 3rd Sept. 2022)

Featured image above: Japanese money. Photo (2020): ASTELUS / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 4.0 Int.

“Focus on Donations in Tokyo Court Case” – text: Knut Holdhus

More about focus on donations: Donations Issue: “God Does Indeed Need Money”

More about focus on donations: Investigative Journalist on Big Donations

More about focus on donations: Malicious One-Sided Government Source Selection

More about focus on donations: Government’s Foul Play Pointed Out

More about focus on donations: Lawyers Using Witnesses under Duress

More about focus on donations: Parents Pay for Activism of Pastors and Lawyers

More about focus on donations: Lawyers Exploiting Fear of the Unknown

More about focus on donations: Sinister Plot of Hostile Lawyers Exposed

More about focus on donations: Lawyers Manipulating, Coercing, Lying

More about focus on donations: Illegalities of Activist Lawyers Exposed


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