Photo/Illutration Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi, right, meets on Dec. 5 with Katsuya Okada, center, and Fumitake Fujita, his counterparts from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), respectively. (Koichi Ueda)

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party offered a compromise to opposition parties on legislation to help victims of the Unification Church who have suffered financial harm due to excessive donations. 

The compromise would issue recommendations to an organization that failed to consider avoiding the restraint of free will when soliciting donations and the rights of the donor were found to be seriously infringed upon.

And while the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) said the measure was a step in the right direction, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan wants a tougher step before supporting the measure.

The CDP wants the bill to be revised to ban such "mind control" donations instead of issuing a recommendation. 

LDP Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi met on Dec. 5 with Katsuya Okada, the CDP secretary-general, and Fumitake Fujita, the Nippon Ishin secretary-general.

At issue was wording in the proposed legislation approved by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet that required organizations to “take into consideration” that they do not restrain the free will of members and make it difficult for them to make appropriate judgments about donations.

The bill stems from the many problems linked to large donations made to the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

Under the LDP compromise, organizations that repeatedly ignored such recommendations to avoid suppressing free will when seeking donations would have their names released publicly. 

The LDP also proposed changing the wording on reviewing the law from about three years after enactment to about two years.

After the meeting, Motegi told reporters that inclusion of the options to issue recommendations and to release the names of offending organizations would increase the effectiveness of the measure.

But Okada told reporters that his party wanted an outright ban on mind control donations. 

Fujita said the compromise proposal was a step forward, but added that the party’s position on the legislation would be made clear after assessing Diet deliberations.

Lawyers who have helped those adversely affected by the huge donations to the church said the three areas that organizations would have to take into consideration covered the main problems caused by the Unification Church.

However, they said for the legislation to be effective, there would have to be a prohibition against such actions rather than simply asking groups to take such matters into consideration.

Meanwhile, in a related matter, the welfare ministry on Dec. 5 acknowledged that it had received a response from the Unification Church regarding its role in setting up “adoptions” of children to member couples who were childless from other members who had children.

Under the adoption law enacted in 2018, arranging adoptions requires a permit from a prefectural government.

Before that law came into force, both sides in an adoption were required to register the transfer of the child with a local government.

Between 1981 and 2021, church followers adopted 745 children, including those arranged through the church that were not registered with local governments.

(This article was written by Kazuki Uechi, Shohei Sasagawa and Mihoko Terada.)