Japan’s New Law Against Religious Donations

Japan's parliament on Saturday approved lawthat bans religious and other organizations from maliciously solicitingdonations. This move by the ruling party is to defuse the controversy over itsties to the unification of the church, after the assassination of its PrimeMinister , Shinso Abe. Tetsuya Yamagami, the only suspect inAbe’s 8 July shooting told theinvestigators that he targeted the politician because of his connections to thechurch, after his mother contributed huge donations to the church which he leftthe family bankrupt.

The legislation is intended to preventJapan’s controversial Unification Church, or the Family Federation forWorld Peace and Unification, from using emotional manipulation to garnerdonations. The former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abewas assassinated during an election rally by a man who held a grudge against thechurch.

Many Unification Church followersclaim they were forced to join, left in poverty, or neglectedbecause of their parents' devotion to the group. Believers, other donors and theirfamilies will now be able to seek the return of donations whenorganizations play on their fears or link their cash tospiritual salvation.Organizations will also be banned from asking donorsto borrow money or sell real estate and other assets.

Although the law doesn't name the UnificationChurch, its passing follows public pressure after Abe's assassination, whichlifted the lid on the group's practices.

However, the National network of lawyersagainst Spiritual sales argue that the new legislation is inadequate as itdoesn't enforce donation limits or offer protection to children of followersor those believed to be brainwashed into making large donations alsoaddress the harms of the Unification Church. The group noted that the bill doesnot prohibit donations to individual Church members, and individuals maycontinue to solicit donations illegally if the Church loses its legal status.The organization also believes the government must restrict and regulate theUnification Church’s missionary activities.

 Japan’s parliament onSaturday enacted a law to restrict malicious donation solicitations by religiousand other groups, which mainly targets the Unification Church, whosefundraising tactics and cozy ties with the governing party caused publicoutrage.

The new law, approved atthis year’s closing parliamentary session, allows believers, other donors andtheir families to seek the return of their money and prohibits religious groupsand other organizations from soliciting funds by coercion, threats or linkingdonations to spiritual salvation.

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