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Pure activism in Japanese media

Keiko Nagaoka

Japanese media promoting pure activism for dissolution of the Unification Church

The Asahi Shimbun printing pure activismAsahi Shimbun, a major left-leaning newspaper in Japan – followed by Japan Times, Japan Today, Yomiuri Shimbun and others – quoting unnamed sources, published 3rd September 2023 articles about the possibility of Japan seeking a court order to disband the Unification Church. Leftwing Asahi wrote that such an order will be sought, other papers that it may or could be sought. Kyodo News pointed out that it remains uncertain.

Some media in the Western world have also picked up the story.

Fumio Kishida, Japanese Prime Minister, in 2020. Photo: 首相官邸 / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 4.0 Int. Cropped

There is not much new information in the reports. The dissolution option is commonly known from before. In fact, it is easy to conclude that the Asahi article may well have been published as pure activism in order to put pressure on the Japanese government to do something. The leftist Asahi has been campaigning for decades against a Unification Church known to have advocated a crystal-clear criticism of the ideological fallacies of totalitarian and genocidal communism.

Soka Gakkai International Flag
The Soka Gakkai International flag. Photo: QueerMichael / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 4.0 Int

Judging by the many vicious attacks on the Unification Church by communists in Japan, or communist-initiated projects like National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, the Unification Church, now called the Family Federation, may indeed be the one religion that the communists fear the most.

They have not launched similar attacks on the Soka Gakkai new Buddhist movement behind the Komeito, the governing Liberal Democratic Party’s coalition partner, even though the Soka Gakkai is much larger than the Family Federation and is much more heavily involved in Japanese politics.

The Japanese media quote unnamed sources close to the government in their pure activism articles. One obvious candidate behind the pure activism, disclosing the information, may well be Masaki Kito, fanatic and uncompromising activist from National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, founded by communists.

In spite of his more than dubious background and having led numerous attacks on the Unification Church for years, he was appointed as an “expert” on the Unification Church to a committee to review “spiritual sales” under the Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan. This makes the entire examination of the Unification Church by the Japanese authorities biased.

Masaki Kito, anti-religious activist. Photo: Bitter Winter

It is easy to understand why Masaki Kito, and others, may be pushing for a dissolution to be ordered possibly already in October. They want it well before the court case against Tetsuya Yamagami begins at the beginning of next year. The proceedings there are likely to vindicate the Family Federation, which to a large extent has been blamed for the assassination of Shinzo Abe 8th July last year. The case may also reveal that anti-cult activists influenced and even helped Yamagami to carry out his act of terror.

Dr. Michael Balcomb, President of the Family Federation of Europe and the Middle East, issued 4th September a statement on the articles,

Michael Balcomb
Dr. Michael Balcomb. Photo: FFWPU

“We are aware that the courts in Japan are contemplating a dissolution order, and anticipate that they will conclude that religious freedom is too important a human right to be arbitrarily or capriciously removed.

We expect that the criminal case against Tetsuya Yamagani will reveal that the Family Federation is innocent of any connection to that tragic crime. We encourage the Japanese Government to allow that legal process to conclude, and not allow themselves to be pressed by the media into hasty actions in blatant disregard of the human rights of our community and, almost inevitably, those of others.

Experiences in other countries, and indeed in Europe itself, show that such attacks on religious freedom of one minority do not stop there, and may well spread to actions such as hate speech and violence against other religious groups, especially minorities.”

14th June 2023, a letter was sent to the Japanese government, written by four academics and human rights activists, all leading experts on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB). They urged the Japanese authorities to halt the ongoing witch hunt against, and respect the rights of, the Unification Church / Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), a minority religion that has been constantly attacked by anti-cult activist lawyers.

In the letter, published 3rd July by Bitter Winter, the online magazine for religious liberty and human rights, the four experts – Willy Fautré, Ján Figel, Massimo Introvigne, and Aaron Rhodes – “call for an end to what increasingly appears as a witch hunt”.

Featured image above: Pressure on Keiko Nagaoka from anti-cultists. She is government minister for education, culture, sports, science and technology (MEXT). Photo (May 2023): U.S. Department of State. Public domain image. Cropped

“Pure Activism in Japanese Media” – text: Knut Holdhus

Read also: Call to End Witch Hunt

See also: Heavily Biased Japanese Reporting


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