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What Is Not Possible Legally, Is Politically

Chiba convention 20th March 2024

Lawyer points out how dissolution order sought at Tokyo District Court is not possible legally, only by politics influencing the court

Sekai Nippo points out excessive steps
Logo of the Sekai Nippo

Tokyo, 21stMarch 2024 – Published as an article in the Japanese newspaper Sekai Nippo. Republished with permission. Translated from Japanese. Original article

Religious freedom symposium: The religious world needs to point out the widespread presence of faith-breaking and cleanse itself of the wounds caused by Aum Shinrikyo

by the editorial department of the Sekai Nippo

The request for a court order to dissolve the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly known as the Unification Church) is unjust and represents a crisis in the religious world. On 20th March, the Chiba Prefectural Convention of the “Symposium to Protect Freedom of Religion and Human Rights” was held in Chiba City, sponsored by the Chiba Citizens Association. About 300 people participated.

Haruhisa Nakagawa
Rev. Haruhisa Nakagawa (中川晴久) at the convention in Chiba 20th March 2024. Photo: Tsuyoshi Toyoda (豊 田 剛 撮) / Sekai Nippo.

One of the speakers, Rev. Haruhisa Nakagawa (中川晴久), Pastor of Christian Church of the Lord’s Sheep (主の羊クリスチャン教会), addressed how easy it is to apply the label of “cult” in Japan, stating, “The memory and trauma of the Aum Shinrikyo incident are being exploited. The religious community must heal that wound.”

Pastor Nakagawa pointed out that the so-called “faith-breakers” who have been involved in abduction and confinement of members of the Family Federation in order to forcibly de-convert them, have also threatened mothers of the Family Federation believers, saying, “If you leave your children [grown-up sons and daughters] to themselves, they will become perpetrators like Aum [Aum Shinrikyo].” In addition, he emphasized, “In order to heal the wounds of the Aum incident, ‘comprehensive reflection’ is necessary, but we must not leave it to those who have been spreading nonsense and exploiting it for the faith-breaking business.”

Tatsuki Nakayama claims dissolution is not possible legally
Attorney Tatsuki Nakayama pointing out politics and public opinion may decide outcome of trial. Photo (2023): Japanese Victims’ Association against Religious Kidnapping and Forced Conversion

Regarding the trial for the dissolution order request held behind closed doors at the Tokyo District Court, Tatsuki Nakayama, an international lawyer, said that although it is legally impossible to dissolve the religious organisation, “the trial does not move by the law alone, but is influenced by politics and public opinion.” Furthermore, he appealed to the audience, saying, “Your support is needed. Those who can take risks should step forward, and those who cannot, should support those who can.”

Satoshi Hamada
Senator Satoshi Hamada at the convention in Chiba 20th March 2024. Photo: Tsuyoshi Toyoda (豊 田 剛 撮) / Sekai Nippo.

In addition, Senator Satoshi Hamada, who spoke on behalf of the guests of honour, said,

“There are still many things I don’t know about the Family Federation. I didn’t know much about the abduction and confinement, and I thought that the dissolution order request was just about the loss of tax benefits for the religious corporation. I would like to tell the Diet about this.”

In a meeting of the General Affairs Committee of the House of Councillors on 12th March, Senator Hamada questioned the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology about the harm caused to members of the Family Federation by the forcible faith-breaking.

Meetings on the theme of religious freedom by members of the Family Federation have been held all over the country over the past year, but it’s the first time that a current member of the national parliament (Diet) has participated.

Featured image above: From the Chiba Prefectural Convention of the “Symposium to Protect Freedom of Religion and Human Rights”, held in Chiba City 20th March 2024. On the right is Attorney Tatsuki Nakayama, beside him Rev. Haruhisa Nakagawa. Photo: Tsuyoshi Toyoda (豊 田 剛 撮) / Sekai Nippo.

“What Is Not Possible Legally, Is Politically” – text: The religion and politics reporting team of the editorial department of the Sekai Nippo.

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