With donation victim relief bill passed into law, Kishida vows to make system easy to use

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Kishida (back row, fourth from left) and others applaud after a plenary session of the House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill designed to remedy and prevent damage stemming from the solicitation of large donations on Thursday.

Following the passage into law of a bill designed to remedy and prevent damage stemming from the solicitation of large donations, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “We have just come to a new starting point.”

Soon after the bill was passed Saturday evening, Kishida held a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Office, emphasizing, “We would like to focus all our efforts on swiftly establishing an environment that will make it easier for victims to use the system.”

Ahead of the press conference, Kishida held a meeting with the special committee on consumer affairs. There he presented his intention for the government to work out an article-by-article explanation of the contents of the law and make it widely known to the public early next year.

The law prohibits corporations and organizations, when soliciting donations from individuals, from driving individuals to their wit’s end by using any of the six types of acts, such as so-called spiritual sales tactics. These tactics involve cajoling people into buying goods by claiming the objects will bring supernatural benefits. The law also states that the revocation of donations can be made for a period of up to 10 years. Requests for individuals to borrow money to give donations have also been prohibited.

Under the law, the national government is authorized to recommend or order a corporation or organization to stop those prohibited acts. Violation of an order carries a penalty of up to one year in prison or a fine of up to ¥1 million.

The law also stipulates three obligations of due consideration on the part of organizations when they solicit donations from individuals, including “not putting individuals in situations where it will be difficult to make appropriate judgments by suppressing their free will.”

Opposition parties’ wishes have been incorporated into the law, such as by enabling the government to make public the name of a corporation or organization, with conditions attached, when it fails to fulfill its duty of due consideration. The law also includes a provision that it is to be reviewed within two years of its enactment.

The bill was passed into law after just five days of deliberations and was formulated amid the issues surrounding the activities of the Unification Church, a religious corporation formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

At the meeting of the upper house’s special committee on consumer affairs, a 16-point supplementary resolution was also adopted, calling for the government to provide specific examples of the duty of due consideration and to make them known widely.

Among the other bills passed during the extraordinary Diet session that ended Saturday, one was to revise the Consumer Contract Law to extend the period to up to 10 years for consumers to cancel contracts made due to spiritual sales tactics.