Kishida defends interpretation of basis for dissolution orders for religious corporations

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida answers questions at a session of the House of Councillors Budget Committee in Tokyo on Thursday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sought understanding in a Diet committee session on Thursday regarding a change in his legal interpretation of the requirements for issuing a dissolution order under the Religious Corporations Law in connection with the Unification Church.

On Tuesday, Kishida initially expressed the view in the Diet that only violations of the Penal Code can provide the basis for a court order to dissolve a religious corporation. However, the following day, he altered that interpretation, saying, “Illegal acts under the Civil Code are included in the requirements.”

Kishida said the change was “not inappropriate at all” during a session of the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Thursday.

“The strict interpretation and application of the laws must be pursued constantly,” he said.

Regarding measures to support victims and prevent damage caused by excessively large donations and so-called spiritual sales tactics involving religious corporations such as the Unification Church (formally called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification), Kishida reiterated his intention to establish legislation during the current Diet session.

“It is only natural that [bills] will be submitted to the current Diet session once they are ready,” he said.

Taro Kono, state minister for consumer affairs and food safety, said: “A team has been set up in the Consumer Affairs Agency to prepare legislation. The team will consider matters such as whether a new law should be established or the existing law should be revised. We will submit [bills] to the Diet, starting with whichever is ready to be submitted first.”

Another issue discussed in the Diet was the installation of safety devices to prevent children from being accidentally left alone inside buses. The government recently announced a measure mandating such devices on buses used by certified nurseries and kindergartens. Kishida said the safety devices should also be required on buses used by noncertified childcare facilities and relevant community buses.