Mar 7, 2024

Japan's Unification Church to face increased scrutiny

Japan's Unification Church to face increased scrutiny

UCA News reporter
March 07, 2024

An advisory panel in Japan has approved the government's move to place the controversial Unification Church and its assets under strict monitoring, says a report.

The Religious Juridical Persons Council, which advises the culture minister, on March 6 approved a proposal laid out by the culture ministry to ensure compensation to the church's spiritual sales victims, Jiji Press reported.

Following the approval, the ministry said that it would begin the procedures for ensuring relief to victims of malpractice, involving the controversial religious organization.

The Unification Church which is formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification came under heavy government scrutiny and public criticism following the assassination of former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by Tetsuya Yamagami.

Yamagami shot and killed Abe on July 8, 2022, over his ties to the Unification Church and alleged economic hardships faced by his family due to hefty donations given by his mother to the Church which is estimated to be around US$1 million.

Japan enacted a special law in December last year to prevent sales of the assets held by a designated religious corporation before a dissolution order is issued over violations of laws and regulations.

Once an organization is given the designation, it will be obliged to notify authorities of any disposal of its real estate assets at least one month in advance.

In October last year, the ministry had requested the Tokyo District Court to issue an order to dissolve the organization as the group collected massive donations through spiritual sales by causing anxiety among believers, Jiji Press reported.

The Tokyo-based Japan Federation of Bar Associations in November 2022 had alleged that the Unification Church had siphoned more than 10 million yen (US$72,000) through spiritual sales, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

These sales are ones by which religious organizations sell goods or services at exorbitant prices promising supernatural benefits such as preventing bad luck or soothing the souls of deceased loved ones.

Some victims also revealed cases of domestic abuse that they faced after consenting to marry in joint wedding ceremonies organized by the Unification Church.

Following widespread criticism, church officials said they had started an investigation into financial anomalies involving the church

Experts say Japan serves as a financial hub for the Unification Church which was founded by Sun Myung Moon in Korea in 1954, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

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