Japan Targets Exploitative Religious Groups 

A legislation to limit deceptive donation solicitations by religious and other groups was passed by the Japanese parliament on Saturday. 

What’s the reason for the legislation? 

It is an effort by the authorities aimed at curbing the excesses of religious groups. The person who fatally shot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a public campaign event in July admitted to authorities that he did so after learning of the former PM’s associations with the Unification Church. Large payments made by his mother to the church, according to a letter and social media posts ascribed to the suspect, broke up his family and destroyed his life. The case also brought to light the suffering of children of churchgoers, including some who claim they were coerced into joining the church, abandoned by their devout parents, or neglected. The difficulties that adherents and their families face in terms of money and mental health have led many detractors to label the church as a cult. 

What does the legislation say? 

Passed at the year’s final parliamentary session, the legislation permits believers, other donors, and their families to request the return of their money and forbids religious groups and other organizations from raising money through coercion, threats, or claims that donations will result in salvation. The enactment of the law, along with Japan’s new national security strategy and defense policy to achieve significant growth of the military over the next five years, was one of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s major priorities. 

Japan would be able to build a preemptive strike capability and deploy long-range missiles according to a revised national security plan that is anticipated to be unveiled later this month. It is a significant departure from the self-defense-only stance Japan had adopted following its loss in World War II in 1945. “Our ongoing project will involve a major change to our national security and finance policies”, Kishida said, as he reiterated that Japan needs to continue reinforcing military power beyond the next five years. 

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