THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
November 17, 2022 at 16:29 JST
The building housing the Consumer Affairs Agency where officials are putting together legislation to deal with donations made to the Unification Church (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Government officials are planning a legal provision that would give children the right to rescind their parents’ donations made to the Unification Church.
The provision will be included in legislation that defines prohibited acts by religious organizations when soliciting donations, several government and ruling coalition officials said.
The bill will also include a legal structure to rescind the intention to donate to the religious groups after such prohibited acts are confirmed.
The provision would address the problems raised by family members who have fallen into abject poverty because of their parents’ huge donations to the Unification Church, now formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
But a major hurdle in the plan is how family members can intervene in cases in which a relative is under the mind control of the organization and unable to recognize that the huge donations made or promised to the church are harming the family.
Such church members would probably not consider rescinding the donation even if the family members were struggling financially.
According to sources, officials are moving toward applying a provision in the Civil Law that allows a creditor to exercise a right on behalf of a debtor in relation to a third party.
This would be based on a scenario in which a parent becomes penniless because of huge donations to a religious organization. The children would still have the right to obtain funds to cover their daily living expenses.
Under the proposed legislation, the children would be given the right to act on behalf of the parent and exercise the right to rescind the donation in relation to the religious organization.
Another special provision is being considered that would allow the children to ask for future living expenses as well.
Officials are also considering setting up a deposit system at regional legal affairs bureaus where the family members can receive the returned donation. Normally, when a donation has been rescinded, the money is given to the church member who made the donation in the first place.
The donation solicitation acts that will likely be banned will be similar to the prohibited actions listed in the Consumer Contract Law.
They include using “spiritual sales” techniques that demand donations or purchases to ward off bad luck or misfortune, or refusing to let a prospective donor go home.
Government officials are expected to explain the outline of the legislation at a Nov. 18 meeting of the secretaries-general of six major political parties.
The government is seeking to pass the legislation in the current extraordinary Diet session.
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