Japan Puts Unification Church under Stricter Monitoring (Update 1)

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

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The culture ministry on Thursday designated the Unification Church as a religious corporation subject to stricter monitoring of its assets under a special law.

The controversial organization, formally called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, is now required to submit a quarterly inventory of its assets and notify authorities beforehand whenever it disposes of any assets.

Under the special law enforced last December, designated religious corporations must inform the ministry and local governments at least one month in advance when disposing of real estate and other assets. If they violate, such transactions will become invalid.

With the designation, the Unification Church has to submit its first quarterly asset inventory for January-March 2024 by June 10.

Under the special law, organizations can also be labeled as specially designated religious corporations to allow victims to have access to asset inventory and other information, if there is a risk of such groups concealing or dissipating their assets.

Although the ministry has said that it does not plan on designating the Unification Church as such a corporation, it may consider the option if there are any further revelations.

In October last year, the ministry asked Tokyo District Court to issue an order to dissolve the Unification Church, stating that the group had collected around ¥20.4 billion in donations from its followers by inciting their fear and anxiety.

The special law was put into effect last December to prevent any outflows of assets of religious groups before courts decide on dissolution orders requested on the grounds of law violations.

Leading up to Thursday’s designation, the ministry gave the Unification Church a chance to offer an explanation and obtained approval for the designation from the Religious Juridical Persons Council, which advises the culture minister.