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Persecuted Minority Religion Urged to Speak Up

Fukuda on minority religion

Minority religion under attack in Japan urged to make itself heard

Kumamoto
Location of Kumamoto on the southern island of Kyushu. Illustration: Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumhwa) / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 3.0 Unp

Part 1 of a speech Japanese investigative journalist and award-winning author Masumi Fukuda (福田ますみ) gave on 16th June 2024 at the “Kumamoto Conference to Protect Freedom of Religion” at a hotel in Kumamoto, a city of ca. 740,000 inhabitants on the southern island of Kyushu. The conference was attended by members and supporters of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, protesting against the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology‘s request for a court order to dissolve the Family Federation of Japan. 

See part 2, part 3, part 4

I am Masumi Fukuda.

Thank you very much for inviting me. […]

Previously, at gatherings in Nagasaki and other places, I have mentioned that demonstrations are a citizen’s right. Given the current situation with the Family Federation, I believe we should raise our voices in a noticeable way.

[…] In the 1970s, Scientology faced a similar situation in America as the Family Federation is facing now. At that time, believers from all over the world surrounded the federal courthouse in Washington, DC, in a significant demonstration, which they said was quite effective.

In the United States and Japan, there are different perceptions of demonstrations. In Japan, especially among conservatives, demonstrations are often viewed negatively. Many ordinary conservatives think that demonstrations are something left-wing people do.

However, given the current situation, as someone mentioned yesterday, remaining a silent minority is not an option. The media is heavily biased, and the true nature of the Family Federation is not being conveyed to the general public at all.

I think it is the believers themselves who should raise their voices and hold such demonstrations. I think the members in Kyushu [the large southern island] are the most enthusiastic right now. So, I hope they can show the most enthusiasm for these demonstrations and inspire a wave of support from all over the country.

Ultimately, we must hold these demonstrations in Tokyo. (Applause) Thank you. I have been talking about this with the headquarters, but it seems they are not very enthusiastic about it at the moment. However, at this point, doing nothing is not an option. It’s not like you do nothing; you hold symposiums nationwide. But you still have to make your case to the general public.

Hachiko the loyal dog
Hachiko, the Loyal Dog (忠犬ハチ公) at Shibuya station in Tokyo. Photo: Stephen Kelly from San Francisco, CA, USA / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 2.0 Gen

During the Golden Week holidays in early May, people raised their voices at the bronze statue of “Hachiko, the Loyal Dog” (忠犬ハチ公) in Shibuya [in Tokyo]. So, I think this movement of raising voices and this enthusiasm are growing.

Anyway, the Family Federation is a religion that is currently misunderstood. As mentioned earlier, ordinary Japanese people often say, “We know about freedom of religion,” and “We know religious persecution is wrong.”

But they say, “The Family Federation is not a religion; it’s just a money-collecting group disguised as a religion.” That is entirely incorrect. It is outright religious persecution. (Applause)

Genri Koron
Front cover page of one version of Unification Principles in Japanese – 原理講論

However, it is really true that this is indeed religious persecution, and that the Family Federation is a legitimate religious organization. The teachings, such as the profound and systematic Unification Principles, make it a genuine religion, perhaps even more so than organizations like Soka Gakkai. (Applause)

While I have attended lectures on the Unification Principles, I realized that its teachings are quite the opposite of my own lifestyle. (Laughter) I am not married, and I don’t have a family or children. I believe marriage is optional, but the Family Federation‘s teachings emphasize the importance of the Blessing and having a family. This is something that is shared only among believers, not with the general public.

Although the teachings differ from my own views, I think it is still possible for someone like me, who doesn’t align perfectly with their beliefs, to support the Family Federation. I find this somewhat unique. (Applause)

As an ordinary person, before the assassination of former Prime Minister Abe, I didn’t really think deeply about religion. However, I have come to learn some terms like “the created world”, which is used in the Family Federation. As I learned about “microcosm”, such as the human body, and “macrocosm”, such as the universe, I realized how well everything is made. This led me to think that perhaps there is some intentional will behind it, and at times I contemplated the will of God. But I always felt that religion was not something close to me.

Continued in part 2, part 3, part 4.

Masumi Fukuda (福田ますみ) is a Japanese non-fiction author and award-winning journalist, well known for her investigative journalism. She has written several in-depth reports about the persecution of the Family Federation in Japan and has exposed how a leftwing network of lawyers uses any means to have the Family Federation dissolved. Her articles have been published mainly in Japan, but several are republished by Bitter Winter, the international online magazine on religious freedom and human rights.

Featured image above: Masumi Fukuda speaking in Kumamoto 16th June 2024. Photo: Screenshot from video recording.

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