Thursday, July 25, 2024

Japan files for court order to dissolve controversial religious sect

Japan’s Education and Culture Ministry on Friday filed a request with a court for an order to dissolve the Unification Church, a controversial religious sect, in a bid to deprive the group of its corporation status.

The government filed the request at the Tokyo District Court, saying the group’s practices are illegal and significantly harmful to public welfare, reports Xinhua news agency.

The move came after a months-long probe into the controversial religious group over alleged malicious practices including soliciting financially ruinous donations from members.

The Ministry interviewed more than 170 people connected to the organisation.

Nearly 5,000 pieces of evidence were submitted to the court, public broadcaster NHK reported.

If the court accepts the government’s request, the Unification Church, founded in South Korea in 1954, would lose its status as a religious corporation and be deprived of tax benefits, although the organisation could still continue its activities in Japan.

The Unification Church has long been criticised for encouraging its followers to make exorbitant donations in the form of “spiritual sales” in return for “karmic benefits”.

The group also came under intensified scrutiny after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot during an election campaign speech in July 2022 by Tetsuya Yamagami over his perceived links to the group.

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