Blatant bias in Kishida administration’s handling of Family Federation case
Tokyo, 14th December 2023 – Published as an article in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article
Questionable request for dissolution of the Family Federation: Interview with international lawyer Tatsuki Nakayama (Part 1)
Concerns about Totalitarianism out of Control and a Conclusion Predetermined by Political Leadership
by the editorial department, interviewers: Takahide Ishii (石井孝秀) and Yoshiyuki Iwaki (岩城喜之)
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has requested the Tokyo District Court to dissolve the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The religious organisation claims that this is unconstitutional, and concerns have been raised by other religious groups and human rights organizations abroad. International lawyer Tatsuki Nakayama argues that the Family Federation does not meet the requirements for dissolution. We asked him about a series of government actions.
– What do you think of the government’s request for an order to dissolve the Family Federation?
I was surprised by the content of the press handout regarding the dissolution request issued by Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Masahito Moriyama (盛山正仁) at a press conference on 12th October this year. It was particularly surprising that a public administrative agency could use a strong expression like “the legal entity is a receptacle for the acquisition of property through illegal acts or acts that deviate from the purpose of the entity.”
Since there has been no violation of the Criminal Code, if you think logically, you cannot issue a dissolution order unless you include Civil Code cases in the “violation of the law”. Therefore, it was concluded that if a request for a dissolution order was to be made, the only way to do so was to include the Civil Code cases. Other circumstances suggest that the call for dissolution is politically driven.
Although the administration was responsible for this action, there are many cases where the court has a verdict in mind and the reasoning is added later. Neither the administration nor the court always follows the law to the letter. It is also common for them to be pressured by public opinion to reach a decision. Therefore, I thought that the possibility of a dissolution request was not zero. If a request has been made, we must be prepared to accept it. However, from a legal perspective, the requirements for a dissolution request are not met.
– Are the request for a dissolution order and the series of government responses appropriate according to the Constitution?
There were major problems such as the inclusion of civil law cases when determining “violation of laws” as the request for dissolution was made, as well as the right to ask questions during the process leading up to the request for dissolution.
If you think about it in terms of a company, even if an employee causes a problem, he or she is not immediately fired. At first, there is a process of handing over a warning letter stating that the work rules have been violated at least twice. If things still don’t improve, first then will the worker be sacked. This is the appropriate procedure.
Even in the case of a joint-stock company dealing in the economic sector, dissolution under the Companies Act is limited to “acts that violate criminal laws and regulations”, and when the company has continuously violated the warnings from the Minister of Justice. If it is a religious corporation, one deals with internal matters or religious freedom. Then, it is necessary to proceed with a process of dissolution more carefully. However, the problem is that this has not been the case now. Ever since the Religious Corporations Act came into effect in 1951, such a situation was not anticipated, and it can be said that the law itself is flawed.
There is a possibility that this will affect other religious organizations in the future, but I feel a sense of crisis in the Japanese society as a whole. Expressions such as “cult”, “mind control”, and “corrupt relationships not easy to cut” (zubuzubu – ずぶずぶ) have an impact, but are vaguely defined. They have taken on a life of their own, and without being understood deeply, the use of such words has created a divisive atmosphere.
Even in a normal case of alleged harm, one does not immediately face imprisonment or a large fine in order for human rights to be guarded. However, without any warning or on-site inspections, the religious organisation was suddenly facing a request for dissolution. Moreover, the hearing investigation only included the voices of the side claiming damages.
A situation where prejudice and misunderstandings affect people’s consciousness and even move politics is a serious situation that we must be concerned about as a democratic country.
This totalitarianism out of control is not just a religious issue, but a fundamental problem that all Japanese people must confront.
Tatsuki Nakayama (中山達樹) was born in Kanagawa Prefecture (神奈川県) in 1974. He graduated from the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Law. In 2005, he became a registered lawyer and graduated from the National University of Singapore Law School in 2010. After working as an international lawyer at a law firm in Singapore, he established Nakayama International Law Office in 2015. In 2016, he became a certified fraud examiner and graduated from the master course of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. His notable works include “Global Governance Compliance” and others.
Featured image above: Attorney Tatsuki Nakayama. Photo: Sekai Nippo
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