News and Insights

Main Target of Hounding Not Church, but LDP

Word cloud Japanese

Author uses data to show that governing party was main target of hounding of religious minority

What was the reporting intended to convey? Report with data on the hounding of the Unification Church

Part 2 of a presentation by Fumihiro Kato (加藤文宏), writer, author and  and photographer, at a symposium on the theme “Why Did Reporting Go Astray? Thorough Examination by Journalists on Reporting on the Former Unification Church”, (organized by UPF-Japan) held 20th January 2024 in Tokyo to investigate the media’s continued coverage persecuting the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly known as the Unification Church).

See part 1 “Author: Japan’s ‘Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion’”, see part 3, part 4, part 5.

Words used by media show target of hounding
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

What was the intention behind the reporting, what was conveyed, and what really caused the information to run out of control? Instead of relying on my own thoughts or the thoughts of believers, I intend to seek answers through quantitative numerical data.

Reporting consists of information constructed with words. Therefore, we analyzed the words spoken by the media. Which words were frequently used? How frequently were those words associated with other words?

Analyzing those will make it clear what was intended and what was conveyed, without getting caught up in subjectivity. In addition to this, utilizing Big Data accumulated over the past 20 years reveals the reactions of society. These are analytical methods that have become commonplace in academic research and marketing.

Now, let’s examine the content of the actions. Domestic newspapers and news agencies have accounts on Twitter (currently “X”) to promote their own articles. The introductory texts are concise and organized to attract readers. Moreover, by sampling and analyzing tweets, it’s possible to handle cases where articles even have been deleted. By monitoring statements which include the Unification Church, from the article introduction sites of major news agencies, there were 4,246 posts from 2009 to 31st May 2023.

Word cloud Japanese
Japanese Word Cloud shown in one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Here with added English words translated from the most frequently occurring Japanese words. Illustration: FFWPU

Out of these, 4,214 cases, which account for 99%, occurred after 2022. From 11th July 2022, all of a sudden, a flurry of reporting hounding the Unification Church began with the discourse that the assassin was a victim of the religious organization. Now, let’s take a look at the frequency of nouns, to see which words have been used frequently.  This illustration shows statements including the Unification Church.

Here are the top 200 repeatedly used words out of the 4,246 cases, represented using a method called Word Cloud. Please understand that the larger the font, the more frequent its appearance. Among the repeatedly used words, the top-ranking words are these.

The words “Unification Church” themselves have been omitted. What the reports frequently referred to was the Liberal Democratic Party and the Kishida administration. The hounding of the religious organization was supposed to have started with the aim of helping those who had suffered damage, but as pointed out by believers, almost all of it was criticism of the government. […]

What was discussed in the articles was, indeed, the relationship between the Unification Church, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the politicians, and that elections, events, and congratulatory telegrams were the points of contact. It is frequently questioned whether these connections were inspected, investigated, or disclosed. What deserves attention is that it hasn’t been explicitly explained why having connections with the religious organisation and its believers is considered bad, illegal, or what specific impact it had.

This is not limited to Asahi Shimbun [large newspaper, regarded as the flagship of Japan’s political left]. Religious groups and believers participating in election campaigns or lobbying politicians is not exclusive to the Unification Church. However, without showing the basis for the hounding, such so-called “zubuzubu” (deeply involved) relationships were reported without explaining why they were bad, whether they were illegal, and what kind of impact they had.

News coverage
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

Next, let’s take a look at the frequency of tweets introducing articles that include the Unification Church. This graph represents the trend of tweets introducing articles written about the Unification Church. The peak was in August 2022, and except for October, when there was a national funeral, both the amount of coverage and promotional tweets have decreased. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology began exercising its right to ask questions on 22nd November 2022. The enthusiasm to report on the exercising of the right to ask questions and subsequent issues such as the second-generation problem was significantly lower compared to the enthusiasm for criticizing the government.

Let me just say that until the assassination, the press had barely reported on the Unification Church. Is this because they were pressured not only by the Liberal Democratic Party itself, but also by the Liberal Democratic Party administration? Did the mass media succumb to pressure from the administration and refrain from reporting out of deference to the administration? Confessions of such deference have not yet come from the mass media.

Continued in part 3. See part 1 “Author: Japan’s ‘Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion’”, see part 4, part 5.

Featured image above: Japanese Word Cloud shown in one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Here with added English words translated from the most frequently occurring Japanese words. Illustration: FFWPU

Fumihiro Kato (加藤文宏) has contributed to various media outlets, including opinion magazines. Under the pen name Fumi Kato (かとう ふみ), he has published works such as “Chushi Ruro” (厨師流浪 – Wandering Chef), “Kakai Fuki” (花開富貴 – Blossoming, Prosperous and Noble), and “Denko no Otoko” (電光の男 – Lightning Man). Last year, he contributed with an article titled “Can News and Talk Shows Determine Good and Evil?” in the February issue of Monthly Seiron (月刊正論), challenging the approach to reporting on the Unification Church.

“Main Target of Hounding Not Church, but LDP” – text: Fumihiro Kato

More about target of hounding: Unfunny Comedy of Ministers Lacking Integrity

Yet more about target of hounding: Minister in Tight Spot after Violating Rights

Still more about target of hounding: Opposition Inciting Regime to Excessive Steps

Even more about target of hounding: Kishida’s Self-Defeating Populist Decisions

And yet more about target of hounding: Media/Legal Expert: Communism behind Persecution

And still more about target of hounding: Militant Lawyers Dictate Government Policy


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