EDITORIAL: Church has a duty to sincerely address society’s doubts

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The Tokyo District Court this week imposed a fine of 100,000 yen ($661) on the Unification Church for not complying with part of an education ministry investigation under the Religious Corporation Law.

The probe was based on the right to question a religious organization and demand reports in cases where suspected legal violations were an issue.

The ministry had sought the imposition of administrative penalties for the church’s tardy response to the investigation before it filed a petition with the Tokyo District Court for dissolution of the group, formally called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, last October.

This decision marks the first judicial judgment in the ministry’s exercise of the right to inquire into a religious corporation. Notably, it explicitly stated that wrongdoings as defined by the Civil Code are included among the acts of violation of laws and regulations, one of the conditions for ordering the organization to disband.

The court decision assumes that such misdeeds–civil wrongs or wrongful acts that cause harm to others–are also against legal norms that prohibit illegally infringing on the rights of others.

The court cited 22 civil case rulings that recognized the church’s activities had caused more than 1.5 billion yen ($9.91 million) in damages to victims and rejected the church’s claim that the ministry’s investigation was illegal.

Additionally, the court set standards, such as not being able to refuse to report specific factual situations merely because documents are unavailable. It individually examined the materials and information designated by the ministry as “unreported items.” It acknowledged that the church had no valid reason for its failure to provide information concerning matters such as the financial flow of donations to the church and the route by which they could be returned. The same applied to the church’s real estate and financial standing and its support to related organizations.

Content retrieved from: https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/15214519.

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