Japan’s Threat to International Religious Freedom

July 15, 2023


Japan has a well-earned reputation as a defender of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, known and admired for its lively, open politics and tolerance for dissent. But if the current government goes through with its threat to dissolve a minority religious group, it will not only deny religious freedom at home but show that liberal democracies may not be serious about defending principles they promote.

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, better known as the Unification Church, has been under scrutiny by Japanese media, political parties and government bodies since Japan’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was assassinated a year ago, on July 8, 2022. Tetsuya Yamagami, the man accused of shooting Abe with a homemade gun, reportedly held him responsible for the fact that Yamagami’s mother had given a substantial amount of money to the Unification Church.

Aaron Rhodes is a senior fellow at Common Sense Society, whose council of trustees is chaired by Thomas Peterffy, an investor in The Messenger. Rhodes is also president of the Forum for Religious Freedom Europe and was executive director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights from 1993-2007. He is the author of “The Debasement of Human Rights.”

Originally published in The Messenger.

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