Nov 6, 2023

Unification Church to propose up to ¥10 billion in compensation

The Japan Times


Nov 6, 2023

The Unification Church plans to propose a system in which it entrusts up to ¥10 billion to the government to compensate former followers for the damage they claim to have suffered, sources close to the controversial religious group said Monday.

Tomihiro Tanaka, head of the group's Japanese branch, will announce the plan at a news conference to be held in Tokyo on Tuesday afternoon, the sources said. Tanaka is expected to admit the group's moral responsibility and apologize while not accepting legal liability.

In October, the education ministry asked Tokyo District Court to issue an order to dissolve the Unification Church. Currently, a parliamentary debate is underway over the proposed preservation of the group's assets on the grounds that the group could transfer them to South Korea or other countries before the dissolution order is issued.

The proposal for the deposit system is apparently aimed at countering such moves in parliament. The group has claimed that a bill on asset preservation submitted by opposition parties to the ongoing parliamentary session seriously violates the freedom of religious activities and is unconstitutional and illegal.

According to the sources, the group plans to entrust ¥6 billion to ¥10 billion to the government as a source of funds to pay settlement fees to former followers in case the dissolution order is finalized. It plans to ask the government to create a related deposit system.

When requesting the dissolution order, the ministry claimed that the Unification Church's persistent unlawful acts, such as demanding massive donations from followers by inciting anxiety, had resulted in about 1,550 victims losing some ¥20.4 billion in total.

On Thursday, a group of lawyers told a meeting of a project team of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, Komeito, that the total potential damage inflicted by the Unification Church is estimated to reach some ¥120 billion and called for new legislation regarding property preservation.

Tuesday's news conference will be Tanaka's third since the religious body came under renewed scrutiny due to the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July last year.

The shooter, whose mother made large donations as a follower of the Unification Church, has said he was upset with the religious group's perceived connections with Abe.

In an interview in March, Tanaka admitted that the organization accepted some large donations without giving enough consideration to their potential impact on the lives of donors' family members.

Regarding allegations that the church scared its followers into making donations, Tanaka said he is sorry if such conduct took place.


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