Bill to help Unification Church victims passed into law

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida attends a meeting of the Special Committee on Consumer Affairs of the House of Councillors at the Diet Building in Tokyo on Saturday.

A bill intended to prevent damage from unscrupulous solicitations for large donations by groups such as the Unification Church was passed into law Saturday by a majority vote in the House of Councillors.

The passage of the legislation came ahead of the closing of the 69-day extraordinary Diet session on the same day.

At a plenary session of the upper house, the bill was backed by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, as well as opposition parties, such as the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party).

The legislation is intended to help victims of problems linked to the Unification Church, which is officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

Earlier the same day, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said during a meeting of the upper house’s Special Committee on Consumer Affairs, “We will clarify the interpretation of the legislation and improve the consultation system to ensure that the law will be used properly.”

Regarding setting up a commission to examine matters such as the implementation of the law, Kishida expressed the intention to consider including relevant victims and lawyers among the commission’s members.

The bill concerns solicitations of donations by corporations and other organizations targeting individuals and prohibits six types of acts that could confuse people, including so-called spiritual sales tactics. It also obliges relevant entities to consider three points, such as “not making it difficult for individuals to make appropriate judgments by suppressing their free will.”

It is unusual that Diet deliberations were held on a Saturday. Apart from cases in which Diet deliberations were carried into a weekend or public holiday from the previous day, this is the first such occasion in about 29 years, since four laws related to political reforms were enacted on Jan. 29, 1994, to establish the current system of House of Representatives elections.