Former Followers of Unification Church Voice Disappointment, Anger at Press Conference

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tomihiro Tanaka, left, president of the Japan branch of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and Hideyuki Teshigawara, director general of the head office for promoting reform in the group, bow at the beginning of a press conference in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo on Tuesday.

Former followers and children of followers of the Unification Church, who claim to have suffered as a result of huge donations to the group, voiced disappointment and anger at the press conference held by the group Tuesday.

“There were neither apology nor the admission of their organizational involvement in the donation fraud that we had hoped for. There were no remarks admitting their legal responsibility either,” two former followers in their 70s from Toyama Prefecture said through their lawyers.

The two said they were made to donate a total of several tens of millions of yen to the group after the organization’s 2009 declaration of full compliance with relevant regulations. However, the group stressed at the press conference there have been “almost no problems [after the declaration].”

The two former followers said the statement “ignored the reality of our damages.”

On Tuesday, the group announced its proposal to deposit up to ¥10 billion with the government as possible compensation for those who claim to have suffered because of huge donations to the group.

But a woman from the Kansai region, who is a former follower, said it is doubtful whether they really intend to return the money. The woman and her husband, who donated more than ¥200 million to the group, said the organization has not responded to their request for refund.

Katsuomi Abe, a lawyer with the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, said the group should properly address the voices of the victims before asking the government to establish a system to entrust the funds.

“It is quite reasonable for the government not to accept their proposal. For the group to expect the government to accept their proposal and enact legislation is absurd,” Abe said.