Japan Aims to Dissolve Unification Church with Request to Court as Early as October; Investigation Suggests Criteria Met to Prove Religious Group Violated Law

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Japan headquarters of the Unification Church in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

The central government has determined that the Unification Church religious group should be dissolved and plans to request the Tokyo District Court to issue such an order as early as October, sources said.

This approach was reached after conducting an investigation through the exercise of the right to ask questions under the Religious Corporations Law and examining testimonies of former members of the group, whose official name is the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

“We will make a judgment on whether we can request a dissolution order in light of the law and move ahead with the procedures,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a press conference Wednesday.

Referring to the fact that the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has exercised the right to ask questions seven times since last November, Kishida said: “We are collecting evidence from a number of people, including former group members. Final efforts are being made to issue a decision.”

The Religious Corporations Law stipulates that a court can order the dissolution of a religious organization when, “in violation of laws and regulations, the religious corporation commits an act which is clearly found to harm public welfare substantially.”

If the order is finalized, the religious organization loses its status as a religious corporation and loses its tax benefits.

The government recognizes that three points need to be proved in concluding the violations of laws and regulations justifying a request for a dissolution order: systemic involvement, maliciousness and continual nature of the act or acts. The government is expected to refer to the opinion of a ministry panel before submitting the request.