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Japan govt to ask Unification Church more questions

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The head office of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo

The government is to ask the Unification Church additional questions — exercising its “right to question” under the Religious Corporations Law — regarding multiple allegations made against the group, the Cultural Affairs Agency said Friday.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Keiko Nagaoka will as early as Wednesday submit a second set of questions to the group, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

The agency received eight cardboard boxes of documents from the group Friday, in response to Nagaoka’s request for submission by day’s end.

Based on the group’s response, the government could request a court to issue a dissolution order if it concludes that the Unification Church is continuing to commit systematic heinous acts among other suspected illegal activities related to soliciting donations.

“It’s necessary to thoroughly check the materials and documents submitted by the group,” Nagaoka said at a press conference Friday.

Nagaoka sent her initial list of questions to the group’s head office on Nov. 22, exercising for the first time the government’s right to ask questions. The list is believed to have comprised dozens of questions. The group said it had responded with documents related to property, income and expenditure — including accounting books — for the past several years, as well as regulations covering how the group is operated.

Nagaoka will carefully examine the group’s response and hold a meeting of the Religious Juridical Persons Council on Wednesday to discuss additional questions and the reasons for them. The minister will then send the new questions to the group after gaining the council’s approval.

With the second list of questions, Nagaoka aims to have the Unification Church confirm details based on court records, among other materials, collected by the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, which supports people impacted by the group.

The response deadline will likely be set for early January.

The agency is also quizzing followers’ children about certain facts and circumstances.

On Friday, the group released a statement saying, “We will sincerely promote reforms with the aim of becoming a group that is trusted by society.”