Washington, DC, Oct. 14, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Center for Studies on New Religions’ Bitter Winter
Publishes Statement by Religious Freedom and Human Rights Organizations
On Japanese Government’s Undemocratic Request to Dissolve a Minority Religion
TORINO, Italy (October 14, 2023)—Twelve international human rights and religious freedom organizations have signed a statement published in Bitter Winter warning Japanese political leaders that they are acting more like a totalitarian regime than a democracy with their recent request to liquidate a minority religion that has existed in Japan for 60 years.
On October 13, the Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, asked a Tokyo court to proceed with the dissolution of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, also known as the Unification Church. Since 2022, the religious organization has cooperated with a government investigation while protesting falsehoods and half-truths in the media.
But the Japanese government did not heed these good-faith challenges. Instead, Mr. Kishida unilaterally changed the rules about dissolution, broadening it from relying solely on criminal charges to include civil torts, and then allowed government officials to bring in long-resolved civil cases from before 2009 to make its case. The dissolution, which goes through a court process, would strip the Family Federation of its religious corporation tax-exempt status, force it to liquidate its assets, and paint its leaders and members as “antisocial” (outcast) people.
“It seems that the dissolution of the Family Federation, a measure reminiscent of practices current in China and Russia rather in democratic countries, is out of proportion with the charges raised against it and not consistent with the Federation’s law-abiding behavior,” said the statement, published in Bitter Winter, a magazine of the Center for Studies on New Religions.
“This is not the Japan we have learned to respect and love,” said the statement signed by CESNUR Co-Founder Dr. Massimo Introvigne; Marco Respinti, Director-in-charge, Bitter Winter; Thierry Valle, President, Coordination des Associations et des Particuliers pour la Liberté de Conscience; Rev. Eric Roux, Chairman, European Inter-Religious Forum for Religious Freedom; Francesco Curto, Co-Founder, Fedinsieme [Faiths Together]; Alessandro Amicarelli, President, European Federation for Freedom of Belief; Dr. Aaron Rhodes, President, Forum for Religious Freedom Europe; Willy Fautre, Director and Co-Founder, Human Rights Without Frontiers; Rosita Šorytė, President, International Observatory for the Religious Liberty of Refugees; Raffaella Di Marzio, Managing Director, Center for Studies on Freedom of Religion, Belief, and Conscience; Hans Noot, Director, Gerard Noodt Foundation for Freedom of Religion or Belief; and Camelia Marin, Deputy Director, Soteria International.
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