Request for Religious Juridical Persons Council to Release Meeting Minutes Hamada Raises Questions at House of Councilors General Affairs Committee

Mar. 13, 2024

During the General Affairs Committee of the House of Councilors on March 12th, Councilor Member Satoshi Hamada raised concerns regarding the confidentiality of the minutes of the Religious Juridical Persons Council meeting. These minutes led to the decision by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) to request the Tokyo District Court to order the dissolution of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU; formerly known as the Unification Church). Hamada stated this confidentiality as “problematic from the perspective of religious freedom” and urged the minutes be disclosed to the public.

In response, Mariko Kobayashi, a director-general at the Agency for Cultural Affairs, stated that “it has been unanimously decided not to disclose the proceedings” until the court’s decision is finalized.

Hamada additionally pointed out that according to a church statement, over 4,300 FFWPU followers have been victims of abduction and confinement by family members or defectors, who have forced them into renouncing their faith.

In the case of Toru Goto, who was confined for 12 years and 5 months and subjected to pressure to leave FFWPU, his family along with defection agent Takashi Miyamura lost a civil lawsuit filed by Goto in the Supreme Court, and Hamada asked whether the government has acknowledged damages caused to FFWPU victims.

In response, a parliamentary secretary of MEXT Akiko Honda cited the ongoing dispute and its individual nature as reason the government will “refrain from responding.”

Hamada asserted, “Considering the potential unjust threat to religious freedom as politicians collectively distance themselves, I decided to take action because I believe the time is now for politicians to heed the voices of the Family Federation’s followers.”

When asked “whether it would be inappropriate for Diet members to participate in meetings of an organization which the Liberal Democratic Party has declared a severance of relations with,” Honda replied, “We are not in a position to offer our views on the activities of individual Diet members or their participation in meetings of respective organizations.”

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