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Japan: Serious Violations of Religious Freedom

Lantos Swett and Durham

Panel of religious freedom champions point out serious violations in Japan

Panel 31st Jan. 2024 points out serious violations
Katrina Lantos Swett speaking at the special luncheon 31st Jan. 2024 that was part of the 4th International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC. From left: Suzan Johnson Cook, Massimo Introvigne, Jan Figel, Cole Durham, Katrina Lantos Swett, Charles Hurt (moderator). Photo: Screenshot from live transmission

Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, former chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, currently President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, commented 31st January 2024 on the current witch hunt against the Family Federation in Japan. She spoke at a special luncheon that was part of the 4th International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC and said,

“I’m going to talk about what Japan is doing at a more visceral level. You all remember the expression “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Right now, Japan is in the process of getting into the car drunk when it comes to their treatment of the community, we are here to recognize and honor today.

It is not OK to engage in collective punishment.

It is not OK to target a particular faith community.

It is not OK to use the instrumentalities of power and the instrumentalities of a press that is engaging in a pattern of defamatory and slanderous coverage to marginalize and to make an easy picking for state abuse.

Newt Gingrich exposing communist campaign
Newt Gingrich at the special luncheon 31st Jan. 2024 at the 4th International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC. Photo: Screenshot from live transmission.

I overheard the comments in the wonderful video of Speaker Gingrich when he talked about Japan for a long time being a beacon of democracy and human rights in a part of the world where that has not always been the case. Read the speech of Newt Gingrich.

We honor that. We respect that Japan is a friend, but friends don’t let friends drive drunk. That’s what they’re starting to do.”

Another champion of religious freedom on the panel was Cole Durham, Professor Emeritus at Brigham Young University Law School in Provo, Utah, USA. He commented on the extreme measures taken by the Japanese authorities against the Family Federation in Japan after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe 8th July 2022,

“Many of the other people that you’ve listened to are talking more about the specifics of what’s going on with the Family Federation. But let me give you in a very short form, the big picture of how religious freedom applies in this context.

I’ve been working over the past 30 years in academic settings, but also in international and national legal context. I’ve been actively involved in affirming the right to legal entity status. I often tell my students this is something that no TV shows are ever made about. It’s not romantic, but it’s existential and literally for religious communities.

International Covenant on Civil and Political RightsSo, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief is anchored, as we all know, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The right to freedom in the internal forum that is just what we believe, is absolute and is not subject to being restricted.

But it’s well known that the right to manifest or exercise religion or belief can be limited, but only on carefully restricted conditions, including compliance with the rule of law, non-discrimination, and assurance that any limitations are strictly proportional and necessary. […]

But we tend to think of freedom of religion or belief as a matter of individual rights, which it surely is. But by its nature, religion almost always has a communal dimension. Individual belief would be largely empty if deprived of its communal roots, and of the ability of religious communities to give content, structure and a protective home to individual belief.

Religious communities and structures, and to date in history, states as we now know them, arise in context, which are antedated by prior religious communities and religious commitments.

The specific structures of religion and state relations are heavily dependent on history, but it’s now well settled as a matter of international law that freedom of religion or belief necessarily entails the right of religious communities to autonomy in their own affairs.

All major legal sources recognize that the autonomous existence of religious or belief communities is indispensable for pluralism in a democratic society.

In modern legal settings, this includes the right to legal entity status, legal systems that grant benefits such as tax-exempt status. Refusal to grant the requisite status, and comparable benefits constitutes impermissible religious discrimination. […]

In modern societies, it’s not practical to function without legal entities, and if there is wrongful conduct, the individual perpetrators should be sanctioned.

But an entire religious community should not be shut down or crippled, denying the benefits of the religion to all its believers just because of some individual cases of malfeasance, especially where the community itself, as you’ve seen, has taken affirmative action and effective steps for any problem.”

Suzan Johnson Cook
Suzan Johnson Cook in July 2023. Photo: FOREF

Suzan Johnson Cook briefly mentioned an op-ed piece that she wrote together with Katrina Lantos Swett. It was published by RealClearPolitics [independent, non-partisan American media company], but they wanted to “get the mainstream media to focus attention on it, which brings attention to government.” Read about it.

Featured image above: Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett and Dr. Cole Durham at the special luncheon 31st January, that was part of the 4th International Religious Freedom Summit. Photo: Screenshot from live transmission.

More messages from the special luncheon that was part of the 4th International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington DC:

Two European Scholars Warning Japan

Lawyer Exposes Dirty Leftwing Plot

Japan Censured at Religious Freedom Event

More about serious violations of religious freedom in Japan: Inhuman Government-Supported Mass Deprogramming

More about serious violations of religious freedom in Japan: Scholar Condemns Violation of Minority Rights

More about serious violations of religious freedom in Japan: Collusion to Rob Minority of Its Rights

More about serious violations of religious freedom in Japan: Malicious One-Sided Government Source Selection

More about serious violations of religious freedom in Japan: Government’s Foul Play Pointed Out

More about serious violations of religious freedom in Japan: State and Media Creating “Today’s Non-Citizens”

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