News and Insights

Kishida’s Orders Cause Widespread Discrimination

KItakyushu City Hall and Council

Widespread discrimination from local authorities as a result of Kishida ordering the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to cut ties with minority faith

Sekai Nippo on LDP pressuring council
Logo of the Sekai Nippo

Tokyo, 10th July 2024 – Published as the seventh article in a series in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article

Series: Freedom of Religion Under Threat – Part 2: Ripples to local assemblies

Adoption of resolutions labeling a religion as “anti-social”

by the Religious Freedom Investigative Team of the editorial department of Sekai Nippo

See the first article, second article, third article, fourth article, fifth article, sixth article, eighth article, ninth article, tenth article

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s declaration to sever ties with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly the Unification Church) and related organizations in August 2022, following the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, also affected local legislatures.

In a survey of its affiliated members of parliament published by the Liberal Democratic Party on 8th September 2022, the “ties with the religious organization and related associations” that 179 members had were revealed to be routine interactions such as attending meetings, giving speeches, and sending congratulatory telegrams. However, the Prime Minister instructed the Liberal Democratic Party to revise its governance code to “ensure that we have no relationship whatsoever”.

widespread discrimination
Location of the cities mentioned. Illustration: Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumhwa) / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 3.0 Unp

As a result of such a move by the Kishida administration, local legislatures began adopting resolutions to sever ties. On 28th September, the city councils of Tondabayashi (富田林) in Osaka Prefecture and Toyama City adopted such resolutions. On 18th November, the Osaka City Council adopted a resolution to “draw a clear line between itself and the anti-social activities of the former Unification Church and similar groups.” On 15th December, the Kitakyushu City Council adopted a resolution to “confirm non-involvement with the anti-social former Unification Church.” On 20th December, the Osaka Prefectural Assembly adopted a resolution to sever ties.

The Prime Minister’s phrase “refrain from associating with organizations that are socially problematic” has been replaced in these resolutions with the term “anti-social organizations”, branding the religious organization and related groups as anti-social forces such as organized crime groups. This risks putting believers and members of related organizations in a socially disadvantaged position, as if they were subject to exclusion clauses in business contracts (clauses for anti-social forces). Even if they are not engaged in “malicious business practices”, applications (requests) from citizens who are believers or members may no longer be accepted by legislators.

In fact, applications (requests) were no longer accepted, and several members of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), a related organization, filed lawsuits against Toyama City, Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, and Tondabayashi City seeking the cancellation of the resolutions. Additionally, the Family Federation filed a lawsuit against Kitakyushu City.

widespread discrimination
Widespread discrimination by authorities made situation much worse: Graffiti sprayed on Family Federation properties throughout Japan. Photo: FFWPU

On 28th February this year, Osaka District Court dismissed the lawsuit against Osaka Prefecture, Tondabayashi City, and Osaka City seeking the annulment of the resolutions. However, the verdict stated that the resolutions “are merely a de facto expression of the intention of the city council and has no legal effect.” The verdict also noted that the resolutions “cannot be recognized as infringing on the plaintiff’s right to hand in applications (requests).” In other words, it [the religious organization] is not legally considered “antisocial”.

However, the judgment also stated that the resolution “can be said to have a de facto effect with political implications.” This means that the resolution’s wording “anti-social” is allowed to have “de facto effects with political implications”. It could continue to damage the plaintiff’s freedom of religion and right to hand in applications (requests). The plaintiff, a member of the UPF, has appealed, seeking the annulment of the resolutions.

On 25th October 2022, the Liberal Democratic Party decided on a revised governance code stating,

“Party members of the National Diet shall strictly refrain from actions that could be perceived as receiving undue political influence from organizations or groups whose social appropriateness of activities is in question, or that could be misunderstood as promoting their activities.”

They also notified local organizations about cutting ties with the Family Federation and related groups.

Local assembly members affiliated with the Liberal Democratic Party who hold the beliefs of the Family Federation were forced to decide whether or not to seek the party’s official endorsement. In the case of a city councilor in the Kanto region, he left the party and became an independent. The Prime Minister’s declaration of severance of ties gave him the push he needed. The city councilor found it tough being treated as subordinates in party elections. He was re-elected in the city council election last April. This indicates that there were members who left the party for religious reasons rather than policy differences.

On the other hand, there have been cases where local assemblies rejected resolutions to sever ties. On 5th October 2022, the Kyoto Prefectural Assembly, and on 14th October, the Kochi Prefectural Assembly, voted against such resolutions.

Norio Hosoya
Norio Hosoya (細谷典男), Japanese author and politician. Among his books is one titled “The Constitution and the Former Unification Church” (憲法と『旧統一教会』) (2023). Photo (May 2024): Sekai Nippo

In September, the Toride City Council in Ibaraki Prefecture also rejected a similar resolution. Council member Norio Hosoya (細谷典男) and others voiced opposition, stating that it

“infringes on the basic human rights of persons who fulfill their duty to pay taxes as citizens and have not committed any crimes.”

Could there be problems with the Kishida administration’s push for “severing ties” and seeking a dissolution order against the religious organization? In the next part, we will hear from local assembly members who have doubts.

See the first article, second article, third article, fourth article, fifth article, sixth article, eighth article, ninth article, tenth article

Featured image above: Kitakyushu City Hall (left) and City Council. Photo: Sekai Nippo

Related to widespread discriminationInhuman Government-Supported Mass Deprogramming

Also related to widespread discrimination: Scholar Condemns Violation of Minority Rights

More, related to widespread discrimination: Collusion to Rob Minority of Its Rights

And more, related to widespread discrimination: State and Media Creating “Today’s Non-Citizens”

Yet more, related to widespread discrimination: Malicious One-Sided Government Source Selection

Still more, related to widespread discrimination: Japan Criticized for Glaring Rights Violations

Even more, related to widespread discrimination: Japan Following the Way of China

And still more, related to widespread discrimination: 12 Religious Freedom NGOs Denouncing Japan

And even more, related to widespread discrimination: Conference on Religious Freedom Violations

Still more, related to widespread discrimination: Japan: Threat to Religious Freedom

Even more, related to widespread discrimination: Call to End Witch Hunt

More, related to widespread discrimination: Government’s Foul Play Pointed Out

Yet more, related to widespread discrimination: Japan Urged to Make U-Turn

More, related to widespread discriminationJapan: 4300 Abductions and Forcible Detentions

And more, related to widespread discrimination: Illegalities of Activist Lawyers Exposed

Yet more, related to widespread discrimination: Lawyers Manipulating, Coercing, Lying

Categories

Send us a message

Post Form