Network of leftwing activist lawyers behind smear-campaign
Japanese award-winning journalist Masumi Fukuda is well known for her investigative journalism. And it looks like she may well have unearthed another scandal, involving leftwing activist lawyers.
In a series of articles in the monthly magazine Hanada, she has gone against the country’s mainstream media and become the first journalist to ask serious questions about who and what are behind the ongoing smear-campaign against the Family Federation, formerly the Unification Church.
As internationally known author and scholar of sociology of religion Massimo Introvigne pointed out already in August 2022,
“After the crime, media took at face value the statements of anti-Unification-Church lawyers. Nobody cared to investigate them and their past.” (The Abe Assassination. Lawyers “Against Spiritual Sales”—or Against Religious Liberty?, article by Dr. Introvigne in Bitter Winter, a magazine on religious liberty and human rights, 29th Aug. 2022)
The crime he is referring to here, is of course the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. A leftwing group of activist lawyers succeeded in selling their story to the media that it was the Unification Church that was the actual perpetrator.
Journalist Masumi Fukuda appears to be first to dig up the shady background and motives of that group of lawyers. In the January 2023 issue of Hanada, she writes,
“After reflecting about the controversies, I decided to first investigate whether the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales is really an organization that is purely concerned with consumer issues, and to trace back the reasons for its establishment. The July 12 press conference by the Network, as well as the statements by Attorney Masaki Kito, showed that they hold an unusual hatred toward the former Unification Church. I felt there was something beyond mere consumer issues.” (The Truth About the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, article by Masumi Fukuda in the monthly magazine Hanada, republished in English in Bitter Winter 30th March 2023)
Fukuda clearly reveals the origin of the activist lawyers’ network,
“Almost all of the lawyers in the Network were affiliated with the former Socialist Party and the Communist Party, who strongly opposed the enactment of the Anti-Espionage Law, were connected with extremist groups and North Korea, and were ideologically leftists and self-styled atheists. In contrast, the former Unification Church is an anti-communist and conservative organization that opposes atheism. It is clear that this was an ideological battle between the two camps. Attorney Hiroshi Yamaguchi also clearly stated, ‘We want to make a big public announcement [about ‘spiritual sales’] because it will be good for containing right-wing activities, especially for preventing the passing of the Anti-Espionage Law.’” (Hanada)
The investigative journalist also points out that the network of lawyers for decades was heavily involved in the abduction and confinement of members of the Unification Church,
“There were lawyers who became rich through these cases, as did deprogrammers and Christian pastors involved in the abductions, who received substantial amounts of money from the relatives of the believers they deprogrammed. When the lawyers were consulted by the believers’ parents, they first introduced them to the deprogrammers. If and when deprogramming was successful, the lawyers took over from the deprogrammers as ‘handlers’ of the former believers, made them plaintiffs, and filed lawsuits. The anti-Unification-Church group, including Attorney Kito and journalists Yoshifu Arita, and Eito Suzuki, still defends deprogramming to this very day, and claims it was performed to ‘protect’ the former members of the Unification Church.” (Hanada)
Fukuda writes that a huge number of members of the Unification Church were kidnapped, confined and deprogrammed. They were not only forced to denounce their belief, but had to prove that they had left the church by claiming they had been “victims of spiritual sales”. The network of lawyers made them file lawsuits against the Unification Church demanding to get back the money they once had donated.
The Japanese journalist concludes her article by saying,
“I wrote about the details of the abduction and confinement process in the December 2022 issue of ‘Monthly Hanada’, but when I asked Attorney Kito for an interview about deprogramming, he was completely unwilling to respond. The Network has often called the former Unification Church an ‘anti-social organization’ and a ‘cult’, but I believe that these labels may be more appropriately used for an organization deeply involved in deprogramming and in illegal practices of abduction and confinement.” (Hanada)
Text: Knut Holdhus
Featured image above: The front page of the January 2023 issue of the Japanese magazine Monthly Hanada.
Read full article of Fukuda in Bitter Winter