News and Insights

Study Shows Wildly Exaggerated Unfounded Claims

Pyramid of hate

Study based on Big Data reveals media and authorities spreading many exaggerated and unfounded claims against religious minority 

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

Part 3 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, part 2, part 4, part 5

What media reported
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

The media coverage fervently conveyed what is often referred to as the so-called “zubuzubu” (deeply involved) relationship between the religious organisation and national assembly members, criticizing both the Liberal Democratic Party and the government. However, it is not uncommon for believers, not just from the Unification Church, to have connections with politicians. There is absolutely no evidence of why it is wrong or illegal for religious groups and believers to get involved in politics, or what kind of impact it has. No evidence has been shown for any investigation or condemnation.

As a result of the assumption that the religious organisation and its members are evil, there have been  – as pointed out in the report by the U.S. Department of State – instances of public opinion polls in favour of denying believers human rights and political rights. Steps taken to exclude Unification Church believers from local councils have been observed. Even when the identity of the believers was revealed publicly, the media didn’t even question the practice of “outing”.

Study reveals unfounded claims
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

Now, let’s use Google search Big Data to reveal how the public perceived the “zubuzubu” (deeply intvolved) relationship between politicians and the religious organisation. It was extensively reported as a major problem.

The advantage of using Google search Big Data lies in its vast number of users and the accumulation of data since 2004. The number of unique users – excluding duplicates from visiting the same website more than once, is referred to as the number of unique users.

Google’s unique user count reaches a staggering 115.45 million in ten months. As it is the site with the highest number of users among those providing services in Japanese, and considering the keywords people use for internet searches, it’s possible to infer what people wanted to know or what they were thinking.

Society and UC
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

This graph shows the number of searches for the Unification Church from 2004 until just before the assassination. The number of searches increased until 2008, but then declined after the compliance restrictions imposed by the church in 2009. As compliance began to be strictly enforced, society began to forget about the Unification Church. During this period, the media hardly mentioned the Unification Church at all.

Japan and Unification Church
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

This graph shows the change in the number of searches for the Unification Church from 2004 to the present. There is a significant increase in searches in July 2022. The search volume surged in July when investigative reporting began, but then sharply declined, and as we enter 2023, although the search volume is higher than before, it remains sluggish. The Unification Church is once again on the verge of being forgotten. The decrease in people’s interest is closely related to the decrease in news tweets. It can be said that the news coverage was drawing people’s interest to the Unification Church and created an uproar of criticism of the government.

Unification Church and Soka Gakkai and Happy Science
English reconstruction of one of the slides Fumihiro Kato used 20th Jan. 2024. Illustration: FFWPU

The blue line on the upper graph shows the trend for the number of searches for the Soka Gakkai. The blue line on the lower graph represents the trend for the number of searches for “Happy Science” [A new religious movement, founded 1986]. The red line represents the Unification Church, with the red dashed line indicating its peak. As you can see, the interest in referrals to the Unification Church is very small compared to other religions, and interest in the religious organisation is not common.

Furthermore, despite an increase in searches during the commotion when the Unification Church was hounded in 2022, it wasn’t significant. It is evident that the level of interest was overwhelmingly much lower than when Happy Science formed a political party [2009], when an actress became a nun, or when Ryuhou Okawa (大川隆法) passed away [2023]. Moriyama (森山), Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, said that the Unification Church caused anxiety and confusion to many people, but only a small minority showed interest in it. Soka Gakkai is familiar to people in both positive and negative ways, which is why there are so many searches.

If the Unification Church had caused harm on a regular basis locally, there would have been a large number of searches. Events surrounding the Unification Church were not a major issue in Japan. The hounding of the religious organisation was something that only a very small number of people became frantic about, due to media influence.

Let’s consider the real nature of that frenzy.

Continued in part 4Media and Activists Creating False Narrative”.

See part 1Author: Japan’s ‘Apartheid-Style Social Exclusion’”, part 2, part 4, part 5.

Featured image above: Pyramid of hate and discrimination, English version. Illustration: HB / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC ASA 4.0 Int. Translated.

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.

“Study Shows Wildly Exaggerated Unfounded Claims” –  text: Fumihiro Kato

More about unfounded claims: Maverick Minister Lets “3 Foxes In The Henhouse”

Yet more about unfounded claims: Media Helping Terrorist Reach His Goal

Still more about unfounded claims: Opposition Inciting Regime to Excessive Steps

Even more about unfounded claims: Journalist Reveals Ugly Leftwing Conspiracy

And yet more about unfounded claims: Militant Lawyers Dictate Government Policy

And still more about unfounded claims: Inhuman Government-Supported Mass Deprogramming

And even more about unfounded claims: Collusion to Rob Minority of Its Rights

More about unfounded claims: Malicious One-Sided Government Source Selection

 

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