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Opposition Inciting Regime to Excessive Steps

Kazuo Shii and Fumio Kishida

Kishida administration pressured by opposition to take excessive steps like changing the law overnight

Sekai Nippo points out excessive steps
Logo of the Sekai Nippo

Tokyo, 15th February 2024 – Published as an article in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article

Investigating the Request for an Order to Dissolve the Family Federation – Politics and Media out of Control

Part 2: The opposition parties created an uproar and made use of state power to attack a religious organization.

by the Editorial Department of Sekai Nippo

Read part 1, part 3

Religious Corporations Act of Japan
Front page of 2018 English version of Religious Corporations Act of Japan.

The government changing the interpretation of the Religious Corporations Act naturally affects all religious corporations. Previously, the interpretation of the requirements for a dissolution order for a religious corporation explicitly stated that it must have engaged in acts falling under Article 81, Paragraph 1, Item 1 of the same law, namely, “acts that violate prohibitory norms or directive norms established by statutory laws such as the Penal Code, and moreover, it is clearly recognized that such acts significantly harm the public welfare,” along with Item 2, which states “acts that are recognized as significantly deviating from the purposes of religious corporations stipulated in Article 2 of the Religious Corporations Act” (Tokyo High Court, 19th December 1995).

However, the interpretation of Item 1 was suddenly changed overnight under the Fumio Kishida cabinet to include “unlawful acts under the Civil Code” (19th October 2022, House of Councillors Budget Committee, response from Prime Minister Kishida).

The right to ask questions in order to request a dissolution order has been expanded. All at once, it became possible to exercise this right not only against the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly the Unification Church), but also against all other religious corporations. This only strengthened the state’s power over religion. According to statistics from the Religious Affairs Division of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, there are approximately 180,000 religious corporations and a religious population of 180 million individuals in Japan. That exceeds the population of Japan. In other words, it affects the majority of the population.

Satoshi Hamada
Satoshi Hamada in Dec. 2023. Photo: Tamiron / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

However, such a significant change in the legal interpretation was made by a limited number of people within the government. In Prime Minister Kishida’s response to the written question from House of Councilors member Satoshi Hamada (浜田聡) (31st January), he did not disclose the details of the cabinet’s decision or internal government deliberations (9th February).

Hiroyuki Konishi
Hiroyuki Konishi in March 2020. Photo: 石垣のりこ / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 3.0 Unp. Cropped

So far, the opposition parties, that should have been vigilant about “state power”, have not raised any issues regarding this matter. In the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors, Constitutional Democratic Party lawmaker Hiroyuki Konishi (小西洋之), who elicited a change in interpretation from the Prime Minister, said, “Changing one’s interpretation overnight is excessive.” Konishi did not however pursue the matter further regarding the change in interpretation.

Later, Konishi said at a talk event in August 2023,

“I suggested to Kishida, ‘You can say you’ve changed your mind, and that civil law torts can also be applied. If you do that, I won’t pursue that part.’ And Prime Minister Kishida said exactly that.”

The video of this was spread on X (formerly Twitter). The opposition parties, which often chant slogans such as “We won’t tolerate government excesses,” were the ones who incited the government’s excesses.

During the debate over the security legislation in 2015, the main opposition party at the time was the Democratic Party [民主党, Minshutō – a centrist to centre-left liberal party in Japan from 1998 to 2016]. It fiercely opposed the Cabinet decision that changed the interpretation of the constitution to allow limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense, and were hostile to then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, accusing him of “Abe politics”. Within the parliament, they employed delay tactics, and outside, they held protest demonstrations almost every day.

In the “Opposition Coalition” then the Democratic Party cooperated with the Communist Party with the aim of potentially sharing power with it. That coalition began with the justification of revoking the Cabinet decision that serves as the basis for the security legislation.  The “Opposition Coalition” now, on the other hand, provided support for flawed procedures, such as the lack of a Cabinet decision regarding the interpretation change of the Religious Corporations Act, which could potentially undermine the guarantee of freedom of religion as stipulated in the constitution.

Shinzo Abe March 2022. Photo: English: United States Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel / Wikimedia Commons. Public domain image. Cropped

The political forces that make up the “Opposition Coalition” share the same view as defendant Tetsuya Yamagami (山上徹也), who shot Shinzo Abe, that “Abe and the former Unification Church were close.” After the shooting incident, they opposed Abe’s state funeral and criticized the “contacts” between the Liberal Democratic Party and the former Unification Church as well as groups associated with it, such as the International Federation for Victory Over Communism. While using this as material to attack the conservative politics of the Abe administration, it can be said to have encouraged the exercise of the right to question the former Unification Church in order to request an order to dissolve it.

However, democracy emphasizes the importance of procedures. Is there no problem with that?

Before the war, the opposition party had caused the military to go out of control. In the Imperial Diet [Parliament] of 1930, the opposition party, the Rikken Seiyukai (立憲政友会 – Association of Friends of Constitutional Government), attempted to corner the civilian government led by Prime Minister Osachi Hamaguchi (濱口 雄幸) of the Rikken Minseito party by pursuing accusations of having “absconded the right to command”’ at the London Naval Disarmament Conference. The dissatisfaction with disarmament stimulated the public sentiment and the media, and the atmosphere of the times could no longer be prevented from heading towards war. Isn’t there a resemblance to the ruling and opposition parties, and the media, in their pursuit of dissolution requests?

Featured image above: Fumio Kishida and opposition communist Kazuo Shii. In the Japanese Diet building 30th March 2020, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida receiving the Japanese Communist Party’s proposals regarding Japan-China relations from Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party (JPC). Photo: 首相官邸ホームページ License: CC Attr 4.0 Int. Cropped 

Read part 1, part 3

“Opposition Inciting Regime to Excessive Steps” – text: Religion and politics reporting team of the Editorial Department of Sekai Nippo.

More about government’s excessive steps: Kishida’s Self-Defeating Populist Decisions

Yet more about government’s excessive steps: Militant Lawyers Dictate Government Policy

Even more about government’s excessive steps: Gingrich: Kishida Joining Communist Campaign

Still more about government’s excessive steps: Lawyer Exposes Dirty Leftwing Plot

And even more about government’s excessive steps: Inhuman Government-Supported Mass Deprogramming

And yet more about government’s excessive steps: Collusion to Rob Minority of Its Rights

And still more about government’s excessive steps: Malicious One-Sided Government Source Selection

Even more about government’s excessive steps: Government’s Foul Play Pointed Out

Yet more about government’s excessive steps: State and Media Creating “Today’s Non-Citizens”

Still more about government’s excessive steps: Kishida Has Opened Can of Worms

And more about government’s excessive steps: Lawyer Slams Government over Blatant Bias

More about government’s excessive steps: Sinister Plot of Hostile Lawyers Exposed

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