Govt to hear from Unification Church victims: Kishida

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida raises his hand during a session of the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Monday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The Japanese government will hear directly from victims of the Unification Church as part of a planned investigation into the religious group, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday.

“It’s important to hear from victims, lawyers and organizations concerned,” Kishida said at a meeting of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of Japan’s parliament.

Kishida said the government has confirmed 22 cases of Civil Code violations by the Unification Church, but they are not enough to seek a court order to dissolve it.

“They’re not enough compared with past cases where a court issued a dissolution order. We need to build up more facts” through the investigation, Kishida said.

Past dissolution orders issued against two religious groups, including the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult, were both based on criminal cases, he said, suggesting the government will collect information on cases involving the Unification Church other than civil court cases.

The Unification Church, along with its practices of selling goods to members at high prices and collecting massive donations, has come under spotlight since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead in July by a man motivated by Abe’s alleged links with the group.

Kishida said he is negative about conducting an additional survey on ties between lawmakers of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the religious group after it has recently come to light that some LDP members had signed policy accords with organizations linked to the church for campaign cooperation.

“It’s important for each lawmaker to fulfill accountability, and it’s important for the party to cut ties thoroughly toward the future,” Kishida said.