The Unification Church in Japan, also known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, announced on Tuesday that it will provide up to $67 million in compensation to victims of their high-pressure and potentially fraudulent donation tactics. The funds will be distributed by the government, with further details yet to be revealed. This move comes as the church faces serious threats to its operations in the country.
Tanaka apologized earnestly to the second-generation members and other citizens who have experienced suffering, while sitting below a prominent portrait of the deceased.
Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church,
Tanaka denies allegations that the organization deliberately targeted its members and attributed any wrongdoing to lack of proper instruction.
The substantial offer for peace is being considered by the Tokyo District Court as they decide whether to cancel the tax exemption of the contentious organization, known as Unificationists or “Moonies,” and sell off its assets.
According to Tanaka, the Unification Church in Japan has already disbursed $29 million in compensation in regards to 664 claims as of October.
The proposed project to construct a 140-mile, $170 billion undersea tunnel connecting Japan and South Korea has been cancelled.
The church’s proposal to establish a fund for victims is seen as a response to concerns that it may try to move its assets abroad in order to avoid helping those seeking compensation, especially as its religious status in Japan may be at risk.
The lawyers representing 130 confirmed victims state that the church’s proposal would exceed the amount of damages they are seeking. However, the legal group believes that the actual damages could be approximately $700 million, which is ten times more than what the church is proposing.
The number of active members in Japan’s Unification Church is approximately 100,000 out of the total 600,000. The majority of members are older adults and it has been challenging for the organization to retain second-generation members. In response to the government’s attempt to disband the church, Tanaka reported that members have faced discrimination and exclusion.
A recent survey conducted by Kyodo News regarding the government’s decision to dissolve the Unification Church revealed that a staggering 86% of participants were in favor of the action.
According to the Nikkei business newspaper, approximately 100 religious groups had their tax exemptions revoked between 2012 and 2022 due to being defunct. If the Unification Church is stripped of its religious status for participating in illegal acts, it would only be the third instance in Japan after the Aum Shinrikyo cult was disbanded due to its members’ actions.
The Tokyo subway was attacked with lethal sarin gas. in 1995.
If the church, as anticipated, contests the decision to revoke its status, the legal proceedings could potentially span over several years before reaching a resolution.
Religious freedom safeguards outlined in Japanese legislation have enabled around 180,000 religious organizations to establish themselves in a country where the majority of citizens identify as non-religious, which is ironic.
Japan, one of the Unification Church’s first overseas bases, has been its most lucrative source of income. Victims have described being pressured to spend thousands of dollars on religious paraphernalia and field trips to South Korea. After lurid accounts of the church’s high-intensity fundraising began to attract unwanted attention in the 1980s, the politically well-connected church was allowed to change its name to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
ex-priest, who had resigned from his position earlier in the year, sued the church
Last year, the church’s financial situation declined as a former priest, who had quit his role earlier in the year and held resentment, filed a lawsuit against the church.
The son of a church member killed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in an act of assassination.
During daylight hours, a politician was delivering a campaign speech in Nara while someone wielded a self-made firearm.
Tetsuya Yamagami saw Abe giving a speech in a video for the Unification Church and shared that his mother had caused harm to their family by giving $670,000 to the group. Despite committing an act of violence, Yamagami has received presents and treats while also bringing attention to the church’s victims.
The beginning of his trial could potentially be next year.