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Nation’s Attacks on Minority Faith May Backfire

Michael Balcomb

Spelt out at international conference: How Japan’s attacks on minority faith are likely to worsen huge demographic crisis

Session on attacks on minority faith
The panel during session 8 at the 2024 CESNUR conference in Bordeaux, France. Photo: FOREF

First part of a speech given by Dr. Michael Balcomb, President of the Europe and Middle East Region of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, at the 2024 CESNUR Conference. It 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).

Dr. Balcomb spoke on 13th June, the second day of the conference, during session 8 (plenary, chaired by Dr. Eileen Barker), which had the theme “The Unification Church and Japan: What Is Exactly Happening?”

Part 1 of Dr. Balcomb’s speech:

See part 2

You’ve already heard from my colleagues about some of the painful consequences that the ongoing government persecution of our movement is causing in Japan.

Tatsuki Nakayama on how teachings are for society
Attorney Tatsuki Nakayama. Photo: Sekai Nippo

From Attorney Tatsu Nakayama you’ve heard that the Japanese government’s dissolution order may well be unlawful as well as being manifestly unfair. You have heard how unscrupulous lawyers have exploited the suffering of our members for financial gain.

From Moriko Hori you’ve heard of the collateral damage suffered by those innocent and needy children that the Women’s Federation for World Peace has been serving around the world. You also heard how Japanese officials – for sure mostly men – have systematically trampled on the ordinary rights of Japanese citizens, judging that since they are “only” women, they can do this with impunity.

Norishige Kondo pointing out glaring rights violations of believers
Norishige Kondo speaking in Tokyo 10th Sep. 2023. Photo: Screenshot from live transmission by Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion

You’ve heard from Norishige Kondo about the background of the political enemies the Family Federation has made over the years, drawing the ire of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) – yes, it still exists – and behind that the shadowy hand of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Suzuko Hirschmann. Photo: FOREF

Suzuko Hirschmann shared about the harrowing and brutal experience of her own sister. Even though that was many years ago, this type of “deprogramming” – in reality, kidnapping, coercion and mental, physical and even sexual abuse – carried on for more than 40 years with over 4,000 victims. Until quite recently the problem was simply ignored by a disinterested and morally supine Japanese judiciary and executive.

I would like to briefly comment on one more threat of this campaign, not just to our movement but potentially to Japan itself. That is the looming demographic threat.

You have probably heard that both Korea and Japan now have critically low birth rates. For example, Korea has now only 0.7 children per woman of childbearing age, the lowest in the world. That may not sound so bad, but when you run numbers, you find out that if nothing changes, for every 100 Koreans alive today there will only be 4, a hundred years from now.

In Japan the situation is a little better, but still there will only be 15 Japanese for every 100 living today.

We don’t have to wait that long to see the results. I myself married a beautiful Japanese girl 42 years ago and we have five children and two grandchildren with another one on the way. I already can already see the effects of depopulation in my wife’s hometown with many rice fields lying fallow.

For many years our Unification community, like other immigrant communities, has been a refreshing contrast to this decline, with many of our families having three or more children.

These intercultural and interracial marriages have done wonders in breaking down barriers of suspicion and even hatred between nations that have fought each other in the past.

However, I worry that the campaign against our community in the Japanese media, now apparently approved by a cowardly Japanese government and likely to be confirmed by courts that lack true independence, is having a serious effect on the morale of our second and third generations.

They are already confused enough in an era of fake news, AI-generated misinformation on social media, gender identity wars and so much more. It is hard for them to ignore the barrage of propaganda of their national government, hard for them not to want to simply walk away from the discrimination they now face in education, employment and access.

Other immigrant and faith communities in Japan face similar pressures. Mixed race children born in Japan are often called by the pejorative “hafu” or half.

The result is that each year fewer and fewer are keeping the strong marriage and family traditions of their faith community. Fewer are getting married, either within their own tradition or even outside it. The number of children born to those who do marry is down as well, and for the first time, the birth rate is below the replacement rate.

If we cannot reverse this trend, then our movement, like the nation itself, may face extinction. It is a hard thing to say, but it is the iron law of demographics.

The grey men of the Japanese government seem to have no solutions of their own. Instead, they continue to foster or at least permit religious and racial prejudice, by action and inaction, turning their backs on those communities that may be able to lead the way out of this crisis.

Continued in part 2.

Featured image above: Dr. Michael Balcomb addressing a conference in April 2017. Photo: FFWPU

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