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UK Press Release on Current Court Case

Family Federation and Unification Church flags

Press release from Family Federation of the United Kingdom 5th March 2024 on current court case at Tokyo District Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FFWPU UK
Logo of the Family Federation on website of FFWPU UK. Photo: FFWPU

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification calls on Japan to rethink the dissolution of the religious movement in the country The first hearing is taking place of the Japanese governments request for a dissolution order against the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Expected to last several weeks, the behind closed doors hearing started on Thursday 22nd February at Tokyo District Court in front of presiding Judge Kenya Suzuki.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called for the dissolution of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification following the death of Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe. Mr Abe died in hospital in July 2022 after he was shot at a political campaign event. The suspect Tetsuya Yamagami admitted shooting Abe and said he did so as he had a grudge against Family Federation for World Peace and Unification and believed the former prime minister supported them.

Following the assassination and the request for the dissolution of the church in Japan, members of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification have raised concerns about the protection of religious freedoms. It is wrongly being reported that the dissolution of a religious corporation in Japan only has the effect of depriving the corporation of the tax privilege or its status of tax exemption and it would still be able to survive as a voluntary religious organisation.

In fact, as a result of the dissolution, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Japan would not be able to conduct ANY religious activities at all according to a number of articles of the Religious Corporation Act of Japan. (See notes)

Tomihiro Tanaka told about horrendous persecution
Tomihiro Tanaka, here at press conference in Tokyo 7th Nov. 2023. Photo: Screenshot from live transmission by the Family Federation of Japan.

In the opening of the hearing, Presiding Judge Kenya Suzuki heard arguments from Tomihiro Tanaka, head of the Japan branch of the church, and also from the Japanese government. A lawyer representing the church told the judge that donations from believers are used for missionary work in and outside of Japan, and that receiving donations was part of religious activities.

The church has slammed the culture ministry’s description of the organisation as a “vehicle for acquiring assets through illegal activities” and criticized Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s declaration on severing ties with the organisation as discrimination on the basis of ideology and a violation of the Constitution.

It is fully expected that the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Japan will be vindicated in the courts. Over the years, the courts in Europe have again and again upheld the religious and human rights of the church. In a similar case in the UK, the then Attorney General was forced to admit there was “no case to answer” and had to reimburse £4.75m in costs.

However, this process will prolong the unfair and unconstitutional persecution of membership in Japan, who have already endured discrimination in employment and education and in access to basic governmental services and resources simply because of their faith.

Dr Michael Balcomb, Director of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification UK, says,

Dr. Michael Balcomb commenting current court case
Dr. Michael Balcomb. Photo: FFWPU

“The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification of the UK, are deeply disappointed that the government of Japan has taken this rash and ill-considered action to push ahead with dissolution. Many religious and human rights experts from throughout the world have written to the Japanese government in recent weeks urging them not to take this step, which is a blatant disregard of international laws and conventions on human rights and religious freedom and may be found unconstitutional even in Japan.

China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan. Public domain image. Cropped

This call for a dissolution order is a sad reflection on the current state of Japanese parliamentary leadership.

I believe now more than ever that there needs to be that solidarity, and bringing together of people in Japan, as the country faces many major external challenges (the threat of a confident and increasingly belligerent People’s Republic of China, sour relations with South Korea, and the nuclear ambitions of Kim Jong-un) as well as a number of internal challenges.

The country as a whole remains closed-minded and suspicious toward the immigrant communities, including those of the Family Federation, whose traditional values and stable and relatively large families are the best chance Japan has of turning the demographic tide.

If the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification is dissolved, it will not only lose its tax exemption, it will lose its places of worship, assets, everything. It will be a death sentence. And to lose our religious freedom in the country not only affects us at Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, but all those practicing their chosen religion.”

UK Media Contact

For further information or to book an interview please contact Emma Rushton at Roseleigh Media on roseleighmedia@gmail.com and copy in pr@ffwpu.org.uk

Carrying fertilizer bags in death camp
Sun Myung Moon had firsthand experience with the evils of Communism in North Korea. He warned the Japanese of the totalitarian ideology and system. His movement in Japan contributed significantly to slow down the growth of Communism there. The Japanese Communist Party never forgave him and has for decades fought vehemently to stop his movement. With the help of the current Kishida administration, it seems like they are about to succeed.
Here a photo from the factory where the inmates of the horrendous labour camp Sun Myung Moon was sent to in North Korea in 1948. It’s an earlier photo, but the tasks carried out were similar. Here, 40 kg bags of ammonium sulfate being carried in industrial city of Heungnam. Picture taken in the 1930s when the large factory was run by a Japanese company – Nippon Nitrogen Fertilizer Co., Tokyo. Photo: Nippon Nitrogen Fertilizer Co. Public domain image

Notes for Editor

  • The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, previously known as the Unification Church was founded by Sun Myung Moon in Korea in 1954.
  • It became known as FFWPU in 1997 and aimed to be a new broader based evolution of the Unification Community as an alliance of people who generally share the vision of building God-centred families as the basis for healthy communities, stable societies and a peaceful world.
  • When Sun Myung Moon, the founder, was just 15, Jesus Christ revealed to him that the end of the age was fast approaching. Moon took the revelation to churches in Korea but they were dismissive. He gained a small group of followers and preaching in the Communist-held northern part of Korea resulted in his being thrown into a harsh labour camp. On his eventual release, he fled as a refugee to South Korea, where he met Mother Moon. The couple were married in 1960 and continued their public ministry together.
  • The Japan chapter of FFWPU began in 1959, and membership took off during the country’s 1980s economic boom.
  • Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke at two online events hosted by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and his killer claimed he committed the assassination because Abe had “supported the Unification Church” with which the killer (who was not and had never been a member) had become obsessed.
  • When a dissolution of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification was pushed for in the UK, the UK government lost and ended up paying £4.75m in costs to the Unification Church.

Notes on Religious Corporation Act

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

Article 48-2 of the Religious Corporation Act of Japan (“RCA”) sets out that “A religious corporation which has been dissolved is be deemed to continue to exist to the extent of the purpose of liquidation, until the completion of the liquidation”. “The purpose of liquidation” above shall mean only to liquidate the religious corporation. Continuing to conduct religious activities is not included.

When a religious corporation has been dissolved pursuant to the dissolution order, the court appoints a liquidator (Article 49, paragraph 3 of the RCA). The incumbent Chairperson of the Family Federation of Japan, Tomihiro Tanaka, cannot serve as liquidator.

The duties of the liquidator appointed by the court are limited to the following three (Article 49-2, paragraph 1 of the RCA):

          • conclusion of current business;
          • collection of claims and performance of obligations; and
          • delivery of the residual assets

Evidencing the above, two religious corporations once given dissolution orders in Japan (Myokaku-ji and Aum Shinrikyo) do not exist as a religious corporation now.

Featured image above: The flags of the Family Federation (top) and the Unification Church waving in South Korea. Photo: FFWPU

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