Award-winning author reveals how the Japanese Prime Minister without even realizing it opened a veritable can of worms
Tokyo 4th January 2024 – Published as an article in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article
The Prime Minister Has Opened a Pandora’s Box
Part 5 of an interview with Masaki Kubota (窪田順生), author of “Infiltrating the Former Unification Church”
by Seisaku Morita (森田 清策)
– Various media polls show that 70 to 80 percent of the public supports the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s request for an order to disband the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly the Unification Church).
This is probably the result of the mass media’s incitement of hatred against the former Unification Church. Even though people have not been harmed or had any unpleasant experiences, they believe media reports and have an image of the religious organisation as “horrible”. As I have already pointed out, the people in the media who are involved in reporting, cover neither the religious organisation nor its active believers properly. There is a problem with the provider of the information.
In addition, Japanese people are now very serious about money issues, and there is strong opposition to tax increases. A growing number of people insist that religious corporations that receive preferential tax treatment, should be made to pay taxes, and that their privileged position should be removed.
The dissolution order is however not a palatable deal that simply means paying taxes one was previously exempted from. For a religious corporation, it’s a “death sentence”. The public supports it without considering that it infringes on the freedom of religion.
– In addition to the media, politics is also largely to blame.
The person who bears the heaviest responsibility for it is Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Even in capacity of being the “leader of the Liberal Democratic Party”, and certainly for a prime minister, it was unbecoming to declare that the religious organization was “anti-social”’ and announce that he would “sever ties” with it. This gave the go-ahead to apply for a dissolution order.
When my book-publishing project was proposed, many executives of publishing companies expressed concerns and declined. This was because the state had requested the dissolution of the Unification Church on the grounds that it was an “antisocial group”. Even the book “Infiltrating the Former Unification Church” is not being advertised. The trigger for this series of events was not so much the media, but Prime Minister Kishida, who, fearing criticism from the media, rashly declared to have “cut ties”.
When Shinzo Abe was Prime Minister, the media took an anti-authorities stance, saying “We will continue to pursue the Moritomo Gakuen (森友学園) and Kake Gakuen (加計学園) issues (the Morikake problem – モリカケ問題)” [Scandals where it was claimed that government officials had given preferential treatment to school operators with ties to the prime minister]. In reality, the media should also take an anti-authorities stance against Prime Minister Kishida and verify his declaration of having severed ties, but they depend on information from officials, so they cannot complain about the policy decided by the government.
– Did Prime Minister Kishida make a “declaration of cutting all ties” without understanding what it meant, and initially not consider requesting a dissolution order?
He probably didn’t think deeply about it. I think the worst disaster that came from doing it on the spur of the moment was the request for a dissolution order. I don’t know if he did it because he was told to by those around him, but I think it’s not possible that he had any strong intention to dissolve [the Family Federation]. However, the declaration of having cut all ties and the request for a dissolution order left behind a huge negative legacy. The believers have been reduced to beings who do not need to be heard.
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the International Federation for Victory over Communism (IFVOC) fought elections together for over 50 years. When the LDP was pressed by a Communist Party member in the Diet in 1987 to cut ties with the IFVOC because “Sun Myung Moon (the founder of the former Unification Church) is behind the movement to enact the Anti-Espionage Law”, Yasuhiro Nakasone (中曽根康), prime minister at the time, firmly defended the line of “respecting freedom of thought and religion to the fullest”.
Interacting with people from religious organizations is not a bad thing. However, when the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) broke that line by “cutting ties”, it landed itself in trouble. While receiving support from various religious organizations and groups, Prime Minister Kishida, without even realizing it, opened a Pandora’s Box by declaring a severing of ties with a specific religious organisation without any legal basis.
Interviewer: Seisaku Morita
Featured image above: Pandora trying to close the box that she had opened out of curiosity. At left, the evils of the world escape. Based on a work by Frederick Stuart Church (1842-1924). Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image
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Even more about Kishida’s can of worms: Sinister Plot of Hostile Lawyers Exposed
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Yet more about Kishida’s can of worms: No Reasons for Dissolution
And even more about Kishida’s can of worms: Dangerous Precedent to Crush Religions
And even more about Kishida’s can of worms: Kishida Follows Anti-Family Federation Minister
And still more about Kishida’s can of worms: Japan Copying Totalitarian Regimes
And yet more about Kishida’s can of worms: Arbitrary Populist Measures Against Religion
Masaki Kubota (窪田順生) is a non-fiction writer who has contributed to weekly and monthly magazines. He has also worked first as a producer, then as an advisor for TV-documentaries. He is journalist for a weekly magazine and a newspaper, and editor of a monthly magazine. In addition, he works as a media consultant, having conducted over 200 public relations consultations and media training sessions (training on how to handle interviews).
His books include
- “Spin Doctor – Techniques of Information Manipulation Used by Professionals Who ‘Hush up Bad Information’” (Kodansha Alpha Bunko – 2009), which deals with Japan’s political and corporate public relations strategies, and
- “14 Stairs – Reportage on the Niigata Girl’s 9 Years and 2 Months Confinement Case” (Shogakukan – 2006), which won the 12th Shogakukan Non-fiction Award for Excellence.
- His new book, “Infiltrating the Former Unification Church – the Complete Story of the Request for a Dissolution Order and the Deepest Secrets of the ‘No Good Coverage’”, is currently on sale.