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Unfunny Comedy of Ministers Lacking Integrity

Masaru Wakasa

Japanese government ministers lacking integrity create comedy that no one laughs at 

Sekai Nippo describes ministers lacking integrity
Logo of the Sekai Nippo

Tokyo, 22nd February 2024 – Published as an article in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article

An “unfunny comedy” based on the integrity of Education Minister Moriyama, Prime Minister Kishida, and MP Konishi

by Seisaku Morita

“Doesn’t even qualify as a joke.”

There are “principles of good faith” in the Civil Code. The idea is to act in a way that does not betray the trust of the other party. Among those principles is the principle of “clean hands” which says that you cannot receive legal protection if you are not honest.

Japan’s Civil Code is based on strict moral principles such as “faithfulness” and “honesty”. But what about the world of politics? Looking at the battle between the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly the Unification Church) and the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Masahito Moriyama, it is tempting to say that politicians are quite far removed from moral principles.

Masahito Moriyama
Masahito Moriyama. Photo: 文部科学省 / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 4.0 Int. Cropped

In his own YouTube program, lawyer Masaru Wakasa pointed out the following, citing the principle of “clean hands”, “In that sense, it is incompatible for Minister Moriyama to file a request for a dissolution order at the same time as he has considerable ties to the former Unification Church.” In other words, he was disqualified as the minister who demanded the dissolution. Masaru Wakasa assessed the current situation with great clarity and added, “It doesn’t even qualify as a joke; it’s nothing more than a laughing matter.

While lawyers and politicians are different, it can be said to be a matter of lacking integrity when a politician who received support from a religious organization during elections tries to dissolve that same organization. Masahito Moriyama is said to have received election support and a letter of recommendation from an organization associated with the religious group. Avoiding the issue, now he claims to have no recollection of it. However, Wakasa, who has previously run for the House of Representatives and has long been engaged in the study of lies, says almost categorically, “I believe he is lying.”

The reasons for stubborn denial

Fumio Kishida
Fumio Kishida 14th July 2022. Photo: 首相官邸 / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 4.0 Int. Cropped

For this reason, Wakasa says, “It will be quite difficult for Minister Moriyama to go through with a lawsuit for a dissolution order.” Wakasa also raised the fundamental problem that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was suspected of having ties to the religious organization. Therefore, instead of the Cabinet applying for a dissolution order, prosecutors should have done so based on the Religious Corporations Act. In other words, this can be interpreted as an indication that the government believed that if left to the prosecutors, it would be unable to dissolve a religious organization that had never been subject to criminal penalties.

If the religious organization were truly “anti-social”, then politicians who had connections with it would not have clean hands, and they would lose the qualification to request a dissolution order. However, it is an unfunny comedy that the Liberal Democratic Party government, which had close ties with the religious organization, recognized it as anti-social and filed for dissolution.

If Moriyama were to admit to have had ties to the religious organization, it wouldn’t only cost him his ministerial position. Wakasa emphasizes, “The very act of him filing for a dissolution order poses a huge problem, which is collapsing in on itself. That’s why even if he wants to admit he had ties, he cannot.” In other words, Moriyama’s steadfast denial of his connection with the organization is crucial because without it, the request for a dissolution order would be untenable, leading to the collapse of the Cabinet.

There is another unfunny comedy. On 19th October 2022, Prime Minister Kishida abruptly changed his response overnight regarding the requirements for filing a dissolution order. The previous day, he had claimed that torts under civil law “do not apply.” Then, suddenly he asserted that they “do apply”.

In the autumn, he was boasting about it

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

Hiroyuki Konishi, a member of the House of Councilors from the Constitutional Democratic Party, said in the 22nd February issue of Weekly Shincho, “Prime Minister Kishida had no desire to request a dissolution order against the organization, but at the same time he felt a sense of urgency to avoid being cornered by the government being called the ‘patron saint of the former Unification Church’.” The following is the more important part of the story. It’s a bit long, but I will retell it here.

So, Prime Minister Kishida did his calculations and chose to overturn the legal interpretation overnight in order to avoid damage to the government. He had no faith in “upholding the interpretation of the previous cabinet” or “thoroughly resolving the issue of the former Unification Church”. In the end, Prime Minister Kishida decided on a political stance by gauging the direction of the wind. This is something that should never have been done in a country governed by laws. I feel ashamed.

This is what makes you dumbfounded and unable to speak. Last autumn, I wrote in this column that Hiroyuki Konishi boasted in two YouTube videos about suggesting to Prime Minister Kishida how to respond [to questions] by using lies. If it’s true what Konishi boasted about, then the very person who threatened to blame the Prime Minister again and again for being “the patron saint of the former Unification Church”, and in addition made Kishida do something “absolutely not to be done”, he [Konishi] is now criticizing Prime Minister Kishida for being “pathetic”. It’s unbelievable. It seems that politicians are indeed devoid of integrity and credibility.

Featured image above: Masaru Wakasa, lawyer and politician. Photo (2013): Ogiyoshisan / Wikimedia Commons. License: CC Attr 3.0 Unp. Cropped

“Unfunny Comedy of Ministers Lacking Integrity” – text: Seisaku Morita. Published 22nd Feb. 2024 at 11:14 Pm, updated 23rd Feb. 2024 at 1:10pm.

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