Media shaping public opinion in Japan according to leftwing lawyers, the way of China
17th October 2023 – Published as an article in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article
Problems with the media’s aim to influence state power and give ‘death sentence’ to religion
By Kiyoji Masu
‘Monitoring-power’, boldly stated
The media often boasts of “monitoring state power and preventing tyranny”, but now the media use that state power to suppress religion. They are about to get away with such barbarism in a democratic country. This is about the issue of requesting the dissolution of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (hereafter referred to as the religious organisation). If “the dissolution order is a death sentence for a religious corporation” as a member of the Council of Religious Corporations called it in Mainichi Shimbun 11th Oct., it is aiming for a “second murder”, following the shooting incident of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. I consider this to be a notable “media conspiracy” in postwar Japan.
What on earth is the problem? First, the problem with the religious organisation did not arise from criminal proceedings, that is, criminal cases in which the police and prosecutors crack down on criminal acts. It was triggered by “public opinion” that the “motive” for the shooting of former Prime Minister Abe was a grudge against the religious organisation. If the media makes a fuss about it, it becomes a “social problem” and is treated as if it were a “criminal act”, and religious freedom is easily destroyed. I can’t shake off the impression that this is the case.
The epicenter of “public opinion” is the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (Zenkoku Benren), which fights civil lawsuits against religious groups. It consists mainly of left-wing lawyers, but they launch legal battles against anything, be it a corporation or a government office. Immediately after the incident, on 12th July last year, the National Network of Lawyers declared the religious organisation an “antisocial group” at a press conference and called for its dissolution.
At a meeting of the Diet Committee of the Japanese Communist Party held on the 26th July 2022, Masaki Kito [leftwing activist lawyer from the Network of Lawyers] claimed that damage in excess of 1 trillion yen had been caused. He blurted out that “the damage caused by spiritual sales is the largest consumer damage in the history of constitutional government” (In reality, no such damage exists).
Public opinion warfare with China
The media jumped on this, and the gunman was portrayed as “victim”. A “public opinion” of hatred of the religious organisation was formed. On 2nd August 2022, the Communist Party Chairman Kazuo Shii announced in the executive report of the 6th General Assembly of the Central Committee that the religious organisation was an anti-social cult group, and that he would thoroughly investigate its “collusion with the LDP and other political circles”. This is the logic of the Chinese Communist Party.
China has outlawed the religious organisation as an “evil cult” and praised itself saying, “(the Abe incident) showed the correctness of eradicating cults in China” (Global Times, Mainichi Shimbun / online version dated 30th July 2022). The Japanese media agreed with this and launched a public opinion campaign to “wipe out the cult”, with the editorial “The Liberal Democratic Party should investigate the actual situation and cut ties” (Asahi Shimbun, 3rd August 2022).
Second, with the backing of “public opinion”, freedom of religion, speech, association, and political activity guaranteed “to anyone” is easily stripped away. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida came under media fire and declared his farewell to the religious organisation on 31st August last year motivated by “countermeasures against public opinion” (self-preservation). Leftist newspapers took his word for it and waged a “witch hunt”.
Third, when state power is influenced by “public opinion”, the interpretation of laws and regulations can easily be changed overnight. In the past, there have been only two cases of dissolution because of violation of laws and regulations, Aum Shinrikyo and Myokaku-ji Temple, both of which were based on final criminal law convictions for criminal acts. At first, Prime Minister Kishida stated that civil law cases would not be included, but in his reply to the Diet on 19th October last year, he had changed his position overnight, saying that civil law torts could also be included, which the media agreed with.
Policy decisions already made before the meeting of the Council of Religious Corporations
Fourth, if something is in line with “public opinion”, the government will be recognized even if it makes a political move like “to decide on dissolution from the very beginning”. A member of the Council of Religious Corporations, an advisory body to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, testified in an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun 11th October that the government’s policy had already been decided before the council was asked for its opinion in September. The political schedule of an extraordinary Diet session and the supplementary elections to the House of Representatives is involved, and “the Prime Minister’s Office is in control.”
According to the Sankei Shimbun 13th October, there were objections within the council to the way the request was being made, but the Agency for Cultural Affairs visited the homes of the committee members and tried to build a consensus by complaining that “the Cabinet would be blown away.” It was like a political campaign. In the end, the request for dissolution was granted. Therefore, a pastor living in Hyogo near Kyoto expressed his concern in the Asahi Shimbun, saying, “Isn’t this dangerous?” (Editorial Board Member Emi Tadama in Taji Kanron, a series in the newspaper, on 14th Oct.).
In fact, it is dangerous. The left-wing media is trying to use the dissolution of the religious organisation the way “a small hole (蟻（あり）の穴 – ant hole) will sink a large ship” to destroy freedom. This conspiracy should not be overlooked.
“Japan Following the Way of China”: text: Kiyoji Masu
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