Japan Govt to Categorize Unification Church as ‘Designated Religious Corporation’ Under Special Law To Manage Real Estate Disposal (Update 1)

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

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry intends to categorize the Unification Church, formally called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, as a “designated religious corporation,” which would make it mandatory for the group to report any plans to dispose of real estate, according to government sources.

The group has been accused of soliciting large donations from its followers and engaging in dubious sales practices. The ministry has requested a court order to dissolve the group in order to compensate its victims.

If the categorization is officially decided after hearing arguments from the Unification Church and the Religious Juridical Persons Council under the jurisdiction of the Cultural Affairs Agency, the group will be required to submit a report before it disposes of any real estate.

The ministry has already informed the Unification Church of its intention to categorize the group as a designated religious corporation, the sources said.

Under a special measures law enacted in December last year focusing on strengthening surveillance of real estate disposal, an organization can be categorized as a designated religious corporation if a court order that would strip the organization of its religious status is requested. That request has to have been made in response to the organization breaking the law. The designation requires an expectation that a substantial number of victims will suffer from the organization’s actions.

If the organization is officially categorized as a designated religious corporation, it would be obliged to submit a report before it disposes of any real estate or documents, and a list of assets every three months.