Japan moves to strip Unification Church of government recognition

A panel of Japanese non secular consultants convenes to debate the potential dissolution of the Unification Church (STR)

The Japanese authorities mentioned Thursday it was looking for to strip official recognition from the Unification Church, the influential sect underneath intense scrutiny because the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida final 12 months ordered a probe into the church after it emerged that Abe’s alleged killer was motivated by resentment towards the group.

It has been accused of pressuring its followers into making hefty donations and blamed for baby neglect amongst its members.

If granted, the court docket dissolution order sought by the federal government would see the church lose its tax-exempt standing, amongst different authorized privileges, however nonetheless be allowed to proceed its non secular practices.

“In view of the intensive harm induced, we discover that it falls underneath the grounds for ordering dissolution as acknowledged within the non secular companies legislation,” Schooling Minister Masahito Moriyama informed reporters after a panel of consultants unanimously agreed with the choice.

The church “compelled a variety of folks to contribute donations and purchase gadgets… in a manner that restricted their free decision-making and sabotaged their sound judgement”, he added.

The minister mentioned the request can be filed to the Tokyo District Court docket as early as Friday, as soon as “preparations are full”.

Kishida mentioned individually that the federal government’s plan was based mostly on info and a cautious assessment of the matter.

“Primarily based on the legislation and in accordance with the target info, cautious work was finished and the Minister of Schooling made the choice,” he informed reporters at his workplace.

Abe was gunned down in broad daylight final 12 months whereas giving a marketing campaign speech within the western Nara area.

The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, is alleged to have resented the sect over massive donations his mom made that bankrupted his household.

He might face the loss of life penalty if convicted.

Investigations after Abe’s loss of life revealed shut ties between the church and plenty of conservative ruling lawmakers in Japan.

4 of Kishida’s ministers have since stepped down over allegations of monetary irregularities or hyperlinks to the church.

– Lack of credibility –

Hajime Tajika, a legislation professor at Kindai College, defined there can be each social and authorized impacts ought to the non secular company standing be revoked.

The Unification Church would “lose credibility” as a non secular group, he mentioned, which might in flip lead members to depart the church.

Apart from shedding their tax exemption, they’d even be banned from proudly owning property within the church’s identify, he defined, although they may switch titles to people earlier than the dissolution order is finalised.

Nonetheless, “not all issues shall be solved simply because the court docket points a dissolution order”, he warned.

As an illustration, they may legally proceed the controversial observe of promoting high-priced non secular gadgets they tout as granting forgiveness from sins, so-called religious gross sales.

Solely two non secular teams in Japan have ever obtained such an order — one was the Aum Shinrikyo cult that carried out the 1995 sarin assault on the Tokyo metro.

However as there is no such thing as a Japanese legislation underneath which non secular teams could also be banned solely, Aum’s two successor teams proceed to function and recruit members.

Tajika expects it would take “a minimum of a 12 months” till the order is finalised, because the Unification Church will probably take the case to the next court docket.

On its web site Thursday, the sect known as the federal government’s choice “extraordinarily regrettable”.

– ‘Extreme’ donations –

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving chief, was not a member of the church however had addressed an affiliated group, as produce other well-known audio system together with Donald Trump.

The previous prime minister died on July 8, 2022, after being shot with a home made gun as he spoke to supporters close to a prepare station in Nara.

Yamagami, who faces homicide and weapons costs, was apprehended on the spot.

He reportedly focused Abe over his ties to the sect, of which Yamagami’s mom was a follower.

The suspect’s uncle informed native media his nephew typically known as him for assist when his mom left her kids alone and with out meals whereas attending church.

She donated 100 million yen (then round $1 million) to the group earlier than declaring chapter, he added.

Whereas the church has confirmed his mom’s membership, it has refused to disclose how a lot she donated over time.

Recognized formally because the Household Federation for World Peace and Unification, the sect has denied any wrongdoing and pledged to stop “extreme” donations from members.

Based in South Korea in 1954 by Solar Myung Moon, the church, whose members are colloquially often known as “Moonies”, rose to international prominence within the Seventies and ’80s.

Japan has since turn into a key monetary hub for the church, which teaches Japanese believers they should atone for his or her nation’s wartime occupation of Korea.


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