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Japanese Onslaught on Movement in a Nutshell

Kondo gives overview of Japanese onslaught

Victim of abduction and attempted forced de-conversion gives overview of Japanese onslaught on the Family Federation since Abe assassination

Part 1 of edited version of a presentation by Norishige Kondo (近藤徳茂), author and Deputy Director of the Legal Affairs Department of the Family Federation of Japan, on 13th June, the second day of the 2024 CESNUR Conference, during session 8 (plenary, chaired by Dr. Eileen Barker), which had the theme “The Unification Church and Japan: What Is Exactly Happening?” Kondo is a victim of kidnapping, forcible detention and attempted faith-breaking.

The 2024 CESNUR Conference was held from 12th to 15th June at the University of Bordeaux Montaigne in Bordeaux, France with the theme: “The Contribution of Minority Religions to Society”. The conference was co-organized by: Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), Université Bordeaux Montaigne – CLIMAS (Cultures et littératures des mondes Anglophones), and International Society for the Study of New Religions (ISSNR).

See part 2

I will talk about the Family Federation dissolution issue in Japan.

Abe message
Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan 2012-2020. delivering a message via video at a Rally of Hope in Gapyeong, South Korea 12th September 2021. Photo: Screenshot from live tansmission.

First, let’s look at the course of the dissolution case, the chronology of events after the Abe assassination incident on 8th July 2022.

The lawyers’ group National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (NNLASS), which is hostile to the Unification Church, held a press conference and accused the Unification Church of being a “great evil”.

In August 2022 Prime Minister Fumio Kishida proclaimed without careful investigation, “The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will cut the ties with the Unification Church.”

19th October 2022, Kishida changed the interpretation of the Religious Corporations Act (RCA) overnight so that the Unification Church could be dissolved.

On 13th October 2023, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) filed a lawsuit to the court requesting the dissolution of the Unification Church.

Consumer Law News
Front page of Japanese Consumer Laws News July 2022. Photo: FFWPU

In a periodical named Consumer Law News, the July 2022 issue, Lawyer Hiroshi Yamaguchi, a core member of National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (NNLASS), hostile towards the Unification Church, published an article and stated, “Consultation cases for claims against the Unification Church have decreased recently.”

However, after the Abe assassination, the same month that periodical was published, National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (NNLASS), including Yamaguchi, accused the Unification Church and made it appear as if it still caused serious damages.

The media accused the Unification Church of being “anti-social”, claiming that it previously had lost torts. The media blamed lawmakers from the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who had ties with the Unification Church.

And those media attacks caused hostility against the Unification Church. Extreme right-wing groups screamed through loudspeakers in front of the Unification Church headquarters, “Get out of Japan!”

Writing denouncing the movement was painted on the wall of a local church: “Cult out of Japan!”

Threatening letter
Threatening letter sent to the Family Federation of Japan in 2022. Photo: FFWPU

Threatening letters were sent to the headquarters and local churches.

Finally, on 31st Aug. 2022, Prime Minister Kishida proclaimed, “The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will cut ties with the Unification Church.”

However, most Unification Church believers work in regular companies, hospitals, banks, and even at the national and local government levels.

In order for LDP lawmakers to follow this direction, they would have to investigate the beliefs of everyone they contact, and if anyone is identified as a Family Federation believer, sever ties. This violates the Japanese Constitution.

Prime Minister Kishida then took extraordinary actions, one after the other, to support this outrageous proclamation.

In the end, he rushed to order the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to file a lawsuit against the Family Federation, requesting its dissolution to the court.

I’d like to present a list of disputed points in the dissolution case. On a legal level, following the interpretation change by Prime Minister Kishida, MEXT claims civil torts are included in the concept of “violation of law” as one of the requirements of dissolution.

Do Family Federation members have human rights?
The front page of the book “Don’t Family Federation Members Have Human Rights?” by Shinichi Tokunaga (徳永信一), Mamoru Kamono (鴨野 守), and Norishige Kondo (近藤徳茂), published in Japanese June 2023 by Goodtime Publishing (グッドタイム出版)

Based on this legal claim, MEXT claims that the Unification Church case constitutes a violation of law, quoting the following reasons:

■ The Unification Church lost 22 tort cases. Later they revised the number of cases to 31.

■ 257 people wrote testimonies against the Unification Church. Later 30 more persons were added.

■ On a legal level, the Unification Church asserts that the legal claim of MEXT is contrary to precedent-setting rulings.

■ In Unification Church cases torts were established by deviation of social norms. The level of illegality is very low.

■ In order to include torts as requirement for dissolution, torts must be interpreted as “illegalities”, which is a very vague concept. Dissolving a religious corporation by such a vague concept is a violation of due process.

On a factual level, the Unification Church asserts the following:

● In the past, groups of believers taught the Unification Church doctrine to visitors by video lectures at their institutes. They tended to introduce the church name to the visitors after they had learned the doctrine, but before they decided to join the Unification Church.

● In civil cases this practice has been judged to be both lawful and unlawful.

● More than half of the ex-members who filed lawsuits against the Unification Church, or who wrote the testimonies against it, were victims of deprogramming.

● The courts basically issue judgments in accordance with apostates’ narratives.

ICCPR on human rights Japan
From header of UN document with United Nations’ recommendations to Japan on human rights of believers. Under the heading “Abduction and forced de-conversion”, it states:
 “The Committee is concerned at reports of abductions and forced confinement of converts to new religious movements by members of their families in an effort to de-convert them (articles 2, 9, 18, 26).The State party should take effective measures to guarantee the right of every person not to be subject to coercion that would impair his or her freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief.”

As for the deprogramming issue, in 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee issued a recommendation to the Japanese government to resolve the situation of deprogramming in Japan.

Originally, the government should have addressed this issue, but instead the Kishida administration now tries to dissolve the Unification Church using testimonies from deprogrammed apostates. This is an outrageous human rights violation.

I also am a victim of kidnapping, and there are some more victims here at this conference.

Continued in part 2.

Featured image above: Norishige Kondo in Bordeaux, France 12th June 2024. Photo: FOREF

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And yet more on Japanese onslaught: Japan Following the Way of China

And still more on Japanese onslaught: Lawyers and Deprogrammers Hand in Hand

And even more on Japanese onslaught: Police Turns Blind Eye to Forcible Detention

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More on Japanese onslaught: Lawyers Using Witnesses under Duress

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