Japan is going to change the law to help the victims of "Unification Church"

Tokyo: During the current Extraordinary Diet session, the government will introduce bills to amend relevant laws to include provisions for compensation for victims of Unification Church activities.

Some members of the religion's official branch, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, have claimed that so-called spiritual selling techniques forced them to pay substantial sums or make extravagant purchases.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told the House of Representatives budget committee on Tuesday that the government was preparing to submit a bill for the current Diet session.

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As their arrangements are finalized, bills to amend related laws, which the government is considering, will be presented sequentially in the Diet session, according to Kishida.

Kishida told the same committee on Monday that the government would for the first time exercise the "right to ask questions" of people affiliated with the religious group under the Religious Corporations Act.

According to Kishida, the process of exercising the right to ask questions should be simplified. "I will get the Culture Minister to work on it immediately."

Kishida said the government would consider "extending the entitlement of the right to rescind contracts and the period for exercising the right" in relation to amendments to relevant laws, including the Consumer Contract Act.

Due to court decisions in the 2016 and 2017 civil lawsuits, which acknowledged that the Unification Church was accountable for its systematic illegal activities, Kishida ordered Education, Culture, Sports and Science and Technology Minister Keiko Nagaoka to investigate the religious organization.

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The Religious Corporation Council, which includes 19 representatives from the parent ministry's cultural affairs agency, will convene a meeting as early as October 25.

These members will include professors and experts from the religious community who will initiate a debate on a fundamental approach to the implementation of the right to ask questions.

After that, the council would be consulted by the Minister of Culture, Nagaoka regarding the investigation of the sect, and, among other things, the council would be asked for specific investigation methods. After this, the investigation will be started by the government at the earliest this year.

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In response to this action, a consumer affairs agency panel of experts to discuss measures to curb the Unification Church's spiritual sales strategy unveiled a report on Monday detailing a legal framework to prevent religious corporations from soliciting unreasonable donations. Five phases were proposed, including considering the framework.

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