Japan High Court judge upholds “FFWPU used members for profit, not religious purposes.”
Updated June 13, 2020
This has serious ramifications.
The Unification Church of Japan (which now calls itself The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification) is worried about the legal implications of the judge’s 2015 statement, upheld on appeal at the High Court.
This could set a precedent for other former UC members who are seeking compensation for the donations they gave, or the time they worked for the UC without pay, or for damage to their physical health, etc.
The members were recruited for religious purposes, but used for profit.
The FFWPU was ordered to pay $321,400 to the three former members.
The UC / FFWPU of Japan have decided NOT to appeal again.
Translated newspaper report:
Mainichi Shimbun, October 17, 2015 (Hokkaido morning edition)
Lawsuit by former FFWPU / Unification Church followers who were harmed: Appeal court upholds “illegal solicitation” ruling in case against the Unification Church.
The first trial was held at the Sapporo District Court [in March 2014]. Following that, on October 16th in the Court of Appeal at the Sapporo High Court – the presiding judge was SATO, Michiaki – the ruling was given in favor of the three former followers. The judge said they were forced to make donations in illegal solicitation. The former followers sought damages from the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (previously the known as the Unification Church). The FFWPU was ordered to pay a total of ¥38,500,000 ($321,400 US) to the three former followers in Sapporo and Tokyo.
It was pointed out that [at the first trial at the District Court] in March last year, “the judge determined the missionary activities of the (former Unification Church) followers, which included donations and unpaid sales activities, was for profit. Profit was the inferred purpose [of what the followers were asked to do]. It was not for religious purposes, and that was unfair.” Mr. Sato, the presiding judge at the High Court, also upheld this decision.
(The Japanese text is below.)
Japanese women, full of shame and guilt for their country’s crimes against Korea, prostrate themselves on the ground.
[The 60 women who have accepted Korean husbands] are allowed to wear the clothes of heaven [the heavenly country of Korea]. Tokyo, March 2005.
Some of you may think that “it’s just that some stupid women got deceived,” but it isn’t that. What is frightening is what happens after.
The Unification Church deceives the women and pushes [obliges] them to get married and to have children. (They put them in a situation where there is no going back.) All this is to trick the women into soliciting their parents and relatives to become followers or to give money – because it is difficult for people to sue their relatives.
Many of the rich young men and women are naïve. The way of the Unification Church is to tailor fish hooks out of them by deceiving them. The UC can then, without getting their hands dirty, get the parents’ money on these hooks.
It is clever.
Unification Church Tied To Sales-fraud Scheme In Japan
by Frank Greve, Philadelphia Inquirer Washington Bureau
December 20, 1987
WASHINGTON — A 53-year-old Japanese widow with two daughters paid about $66,000 for a miniature marble pagoda worth $3,000.
The pagoda would ward off the family curse that had caused her husband to die young, the salespeople told her. If she did not buy, they told her during the four-hour session in their closed room, a relative soon would die in a traffic accident.
Later, the salespeople came back for more, according to a scathing 41-page report by a Japanese bar association committee on a sales-fraud scheme sweeping Japan. “Your family’s karma is very heavy. Your husband is still suffering,” the salespeople told the widow.
A daily cup of ginseng tea would appease the angry spirits, the salespeople said, charging the widow $50,000 for enough ginseng concentrate to do the trick.
The widow has lots of company. Since 1980, the Japanese sales-fraud scheme has claimed at least 14,579 victims and $165 million, according to the report issued in July by the Japanese bar association’s consumer problems section.
The pagodas, urns, rosaries, seals and ginseng sold all were produced in South Korea and sold in Japan by companies owned or controlled by what the bar panel tactfully termed “a certain religion.”
That “certain religion” is the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, acknowledged John Biermans, spokesman for the church in the United States.
The scheme helped Japanese followers of Moon contribute as much as $800 million to subsidize Moon’s U.S. enterprises, according to Yoshikazu Soejima, a Japanese journalist who split from Moon in 1984.
Biermans blamed “communists” in the Japanese press and bar for distorting what he described as “part of the valid spiritual experience of the Unification Church in Japan.” He said investigators ignored “hundreds of thousands” of satisfied customers, including some who “experienced miracles.”
Japanese followers of Moon may have subsidized U.S. church investments, he added, but “we do it as independent people, not as part of our religious activity.”
The bar’s consumer lawyers rejected a similar argument, finding that Unification Church leaders were the manufacturers, exporters, importers, wholesalers and retailers of talismans and ginseng sold in Japan.
In addition, the salespeople – 3,000 of them, by Soejima’s estimate – live in church-owned group homes, use identical sales forms and employ a common distribution system, the report said.
The bar’s panel, after studying the complaints, found salespeople generally used the same tactics learned from a common sales manual, “Your Honey Talk.”
“Your Honey Talk”
A chapter called “Finding Your Customer’s Weak Point” instructs salespeople to first, without admitting they are selling anything, find an anxiety in the prospect.
Many victims, for example, said salespeople used free palm readings to introduce questions such as, “Do you have a terminal illness?” or “Is your family not in harmony?” Some victims were simply told, “You will become seriously ill when you are about 40. It will probably be cancer.”
Responsive prospects, mostly older women, were escorted by the salesman to a church “spiritual center” to discuss their aroused anxieties with “a great teacher.”
The teacher, his eminence plain from the salespeople’s showy deference, generally ascribed the misfortune to restless ancestors, according to the report. “Your eldest son will die because the spirits of your ancestors are not at rest,” is one reported example.
Next, the teacher is said to have told customers, “In order to break the bad karma and save your family, you must become a monk or a nun to appease the spirits, or you must give up your property.”
Inevitably, the last option was to “buy this product.” It might be a personal seal, rosary, funeral urn or pagoda made by the Unification Church’s Il Shin Building Stone Corp. in South Korea. Or it might be ginseng from the church’s Il Hwa Corp. in South Korea, according to the report.
To resistant customers, sales teams often showed “videotapes of the calamities which befell people who didn’t buy,” according to the consumer lawyers’ panel.
Normally the pitch lasted three hours. Many were longer. As one victim put it, “Continuous persuasion from four in the afternoon until midnight broke my resolve, and I agreed to buy a funerary urn.”
Once a customer yielded, salespeople moved fast, according to the bar’s report, escorting her to her bank, overseeing the withdrawal, and sealing the deal. To subvert cooling-off periods provided under Japanese law, buyers were told that the charms they bought would fail unless kept secret.
Despite strong Unification Church efforts to dissuade victims from suing, recorded consumer complaints add up to more than $165 million in what the bar panel terms “a well-organized nationwide campaign of fraud and trickery.”
That is but a small fraction of the take, the report concludes, because “insecurity and fear have kept the vast majority of victims from coming forward.”
The Ungodly Gains Of The World’s Greediest Church
[ The cash that built the Moon organization’s “foundation.” ]
Sydney Morning Herald May 7, 1993
by Ben Hills
The Unification Church of Japan stated: “We do not participate in profit-making activities.”
“I don’t feel embarrassment … deep remorse is a better word,” confesses Kiyoharu Takahashi, blinking furiously behind his black-rimmed eyeglasses.
For 400 years, a small plot of land on the urban fringe of Tokyo had been in the family, once retainers of the local daimyo (lord of the manor).
Five years ago, Mr Takahashi, then a university student, aged 26, persuaded his family to take out mortgages over the property. Although there is less than a hectare of land, it contains the family home, a turf farm, a rented house and two blocks of flats.
Even so, it still amazes Kiyoharu how much the banks were prepared to lend on it. By the time the credit dried up, he had received $67.5 million, repayments had fallen behind and the banks were threatening to foreclose. Four centuries of family history were about to go down the drain.
What caused this calamity ?
Every cent of the money – plus another $500,000 or so in savings that the Takahashis had put aside over the years – was handed over to an organisation Japanese are starting to call the greediest church in the world, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, known to the less devout as the Moonie church.
Its founder and Pope is the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, a 73-year-old, thrice-married father of [more than] 13 who now lives in the United States, where he has done time in prison for [document fraud and] tax evasion.
Although he is better known for his mass marriage spectaculars – last year he hired the Olympic stadium in Seoul to celebrate the wedding of 30,000 followers, most of whom had never met each other before – Moon has spent the last 40 years building up a formidable religious multinational.
And Japan is the place where Moon Industries Inc, a conglomerate that trades under more than 100 corporate identities, has made its most spectacular, and some would say ungodly, gains.
Young Mr Takahashi is only one of 8,350 people who have come forward, claiming they have been ripped off by the Moonies, since a national legal network was set up to help them get their money back six years ago. The total amount they claim to have been cheated out of is a staggering $568 million. Cases are listed in more than a dozen courts.
Many of them, like Mr Takahashi, say they have been blackmailed into borrowing beyond their means, then handing the money over. In his case, barely credibly, he was told that his father’s Parkinson’s Disease was due to an ancient curse which could only be lifted from the family by prayer … and enormous amounts of money.
Another reformed Moonie – “Tomiko” is a 34-year-old English teacher from Tokyo – was told her lack of luck in love was because of the “dirty” money which she had saved. She took her life savings, $5,000, to a flat where the Moonies sprinkled salt in the four corners of the room, said prayers, and made it all disappear.
“Unfortunately, Japanese seem more susceptible to this sort of thing than people in other countries,” says Hiroshi Yamaguchi, a member of the lawyers’ network, who is handling cases for 25 former Moonies, including Takahashi, Tomiko, and a woman in Australia who was swindled out of $12,000.
People are being enticed into a range of activities which have no overt connection with the Moonies.
There are about 100 Moonie-owned “video centres” around Tokyo where people are invited in and then recruited.
Another favourite ploy is to organise conferences by front organisations, such as the World Peace Professors’ Academy, the Society of Field Flowers, the Japan-Korea Tunnel Task Force and even the Women’s Federation for World Peace, which last year held a meeting at Sydney’s Ritz Carlton Hotel.
No-one knows how many followers the Reverend Moon has attracted since he went international in the mid-1960s. He claims five million followers in 160 countries (including Australia) but a more realistic assessment by former members of the cult is around one-tenth that number [possibly at the zenith – now many fewer].
Even so, Japan – where there are thought to be around 20,000 hard-core Moonies – is beyond doubt one of the most profitable parts of his empire. Or was, until the recent deluge of bad publicity.
Tokyo’s tabloids have been agog for a month over the disappearance of Hiroko Yamazaki, a 33-year-old former Olympic gymnast, who has provided the church with acres of publicity since her marriage at the mass-wedding in Korea last year to a groom selected for her by the Rev Moon.
After being indoctrinated the converts are put out on the streets of Tokyo to bring in other recruits, and to make money selling products door-to-door.
Mr Takahashi displays some of the products he was obliged to sell. There is a 300-gram jar of extract from Korean ginseng (a parsnip-like root which tastes a bit like tobacco and is reputed to be medicinal) – this sold for $1,000, when the over-the-counter price in Korea is about $150. The Reverend Moon’s Il Hwa factory near Seoul is South Korea’s largest ginseng processor.
A set of three name-seals, worth about $125, is sold for up to $15,000. All Moonies dream of selling the jewelled pagoda – a model studded with what look like bits of glass that goes for $67,500.
After her conversion, Tomiko became a real cash cow. Even though she had no property to put up as collateral, she borrowed more than $50,000 from eight different banks and handed it over. She sold her family a garage full of Moonie products – her mother paid $20,000 for a kimono, her father $8,000 for a sauna, among other things. “I became a saleswoman … they said it was the way to achieve heaven on earth.”
Gullible? Perhaps. But 8,349 more like her? Sadao Asami, professor of theology at Tohoku University, believes that there is something about the Japanese that makes them more susceptible to Moon’s brand of religion.
Professor Asami has earned a nickname, “the Devil’s priest”, from the Moonies because of the help he has given hundreds of families, “rescuing” their children from the Moonies. He has worked with 500 to 600 former followers. He says that Japanese remain dependent on their parents much longer than people in the West, and that they are thus more immature. As well, the Japanese culture entertains a variety of religious and superstitious beliefs.
They also, says Mr Yamaguchi, have a lot of money.
Until recently, the Tokyo Moonies have been trying to quietly settle most of the claims out of court. However, in January, Michio Fujii, the head of the church in Japan, wrote to Mr Yamaguchi apologising for the “mismanagement of subordinates of the Unification Church” – but saying that repayment of money would be “temporarily stopped”.
This means that Mr Takahashi is in trouble. The church had repaid most of the money and had taken over repayments on the loans. But $3 million is outstanding. The Moonies’ headquarters is in the fashionable suburb of Shibuya, a three-storey building that occupies most of a city block.
Unfortunately, neither Mr Fujii, nor anyone else, was willing to put the church’s point of view on these serious allegations. They later sent an anonymous fax, denying everything and claiming bare-facedly: “We do not participate in profit-making activities.”
The Unification Church’s own publications boast of a global business empire valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The core is the Sae-il engineering company, which began making air-rifles, and now manufactures machine-tools in Korea, Germany and Africa. Then there is the Il-Hwa company which produces more than 40 different pharmaceutical products, ginseng and soft-drinks; in Alabama, there is International Oceanic Enterprises which catches and packs seafood; in Alaska, the Master Marine company makes fibreglass fishing trawlers; the Moonies own the Paragon House publishing firm, the Washington Times newspaper and a four-storey complex in Barrytown, New York, where they run a theological seminary.
Although his worries are not over, Mr Takahashi – along with several thousand other former converts – is thankful to be out of it. And not to have to go through with the “marriage” he had in 1988 … along with 6,499 other couples. In a hall at a Seoul soft-drink factory, he saw his bride for the first time. “I had built up expectations of how beautiful she was going to be,” he says “When I saw her I got vertigo.”
Two of his fellow Moonies committed suicide. One, a middle-aged woman who was being pressured into handing over some land, jumped off a building. Another, a man who was married at a mass wedding, jumped in front of a car.
“At the time I believed in it,” says Mr Takahashi, “Now I know it was only blackmail and lies aimed at getting their money.”
Widow Pays Church to End Husband’s ‘Suffering in Hell’
by Kevin Sullivan, Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 4, 1996; Page A30
Atsuko Nakajima was about 40 when her husband died of heart disease in February 1988, leaving her with a young daughter to raise. During her grieving, a neighbor stopped by to offer her condolences.
According to her lawyers and court documents, this is what followed:
The neighbor was a member of the Unification Church, but did not mention that at the time. She suggested going to an art show to take Nakajima’s mind off her tragedy. At the show, she persuaded the widow to pay about $2,200 for a painting. It later turned out the painting was purchased from a company owned by Unification Church members.
Two months later, the church member told Nakajima that a “very famous teacher” would be speaking nearby and invited her to come hear him. When the widow met the teacher, he began crying and trembling. “Your husband is descending. I can see your husband’s body suffering in hell. I cannot stop myself from shaking. Your husband is saying he wants you to donate” $50,000.
When Nakajima resisted, the teacher told her, “If you delay your answer, your husband’s body suffering in hell will appear to you in your dreams. You had better decide soon.” Nakajima paid the money.
Several weeks later, the church member and other church members told her that her husband was still suffering in hell. They persuaded her to help him by purchasing a small holy statue and two pairs of prayer beads for about $70,000. She bought a set of signature stamps, commonly used in Japan instead of a handwritten signature, for another $2,000.
She had turned over a total of about $124,200.
In June 1988, four months after her husband died, Nakajima went with several church members to an apartment, where she met a man who appeared to be praying. He told her: “Your husband is suffering in hell. Your husband desires [about $500,000]. But your husband says that at the least he wants you to donate [about $300,000].”
Nakajima replied that if she paid that much, it would drain the remainder of her husband’s life insurance payment. She said she needed the money to send her daughter to college. She was told that her husband died because of bad karma from his ancestors and that if she did not donate, her daughter’s life would be shortened by the same bad karma.
Fearing that the church members would never leave her alone, Nakajima relented. She turned over the cash to a church member who told her the money would be used in a Unification Church project to build a tunnel between Japan and South Korea. At a party at a Unification Church to celebrate her donation, she received a photograph of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his wife.
In 1989, Nakajima hired lawyers to sue the Unification Church. …
For the full story, see:
This is a rough translation:
Tokyo District Court ordered FFWPU to pay 4.7 million yen compensation for illegal solicitation to former member
February 29, 2020 Social trial
In this lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court filed by a woman in her 60s, who is a former FFWPU member living in Tokyo, she sought a payment of about 5.2 million yen. She had been made to make large donations due to illegal solicitations by members of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly known as the Unification Church).
In the February 28, 2020 ruling, Judge Shigeru Ito ordered the Family Federation and followers to pay about 4.7 million yen.
Judge Ito pointed out, “Women continue to be horrified and fear that their deceased husbands and eldest sons are suffering in hell, and demands for such donations are illegal acts which deviate from what are considered socially acceptable norms.”
The judge said that the Family Federation had responsibility for the actions of its followers [and that they were not acting independently, which is what the FFWPU usually assert].
The FFWPU member [who had solicited the large donation] refunded about 2 million yen to the former member and claimed that the woman had agreed, before the woman had lodged her complaint with the court, that she would not make any further claims.
However, the judge dismissed [the FFWPU assertion and ordered the higher amount of 4.7 million yen to be paid]. Judge Ito gave the following ruling: “It is unlawful and against public order and morals to waive the woman’s claim without confirming what she had asked for or giving her any explanation.”
2020.2.29 00:54 社会 裁判
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