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'Unique group' of concern Unification Church vanished from gov't reports under Abe admin.

Tomihiro Tanaka, left, president of the Japanese branch of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, speaks at a Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan press conference in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Aug. 10, 2022. (Mainichi/Kenji Ikai)

TOKYO -- The Japanese Cabinet has confirmed that the "unique group" requiring special concern outlined in 2005 and 2006 government reports on domestic and world affairs was the Unification Church.

    The Cabinet approved a written statement on the matter on Aug. 15 in response to questions by Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a House of Councillors lawmaker with the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

    The Public Security Intelligence Agency publishes "Review and Prospect of Internal and External Situations" reports every January to provide insight into the previous year's public security matters. In the 2005 report, the domestic affairs section included a subheading titled "unique group." Without giving a name, it reported the existence of a "group that established a new organization with the purpose of gathering Koreans living in Japan and that exhibited attempts to extend its influence by incorporating these Zainichi Koreans and affiliated parties." After indicating that there were other such unique groups, it stated that these groups "are attempting to expand their power by inciting a sense of danger and anxiety" and that "the groups' unique language and conduct need to be continuously monitored."

    The 2006 edition also contained the "unique group" subheading, and introduced it as "a group that advocates the unification of the Korean Peninsula and that has made moves to create friction with Zainichi organizations by making Zainichi Koreans and affiliated parties attend gatherings in South Korea and through other means." The report stated that there were concerns the groups would cause unlawful incidents.

    In the Aug. 15 written response, the Japanese government clarified that the "unique group" was "a group engaging in activities based on unique doctrines and claims that deviate from social norms." It admitted that the "unique group" mentioned in the 2005 and 2006 Public Security Intelligence Agency reports referred to the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

    However, the sections on the Unification Church disappeared from the 2007 report, published during Shinzo Abe's first tenure as prime minister. After this, related descriptions only appeared in the 2013 edition, which used toned-down language. According to the Public Security Intelligence Agency and other sources, the 2013 report did not use the subheading "unique group." It stated that "a new religion-affiliated group originating in South Korea" and other parties engaged in volunteer efforts related to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, such as removing rubble, and "strived to promote the group" online.

    The relationship between politicians and the Unification Church has come under increased scrutiny following former Prime Minister Abe's July assassination, and upper house member Tsujimoto demanded that the government explain why statements related to the group had disappeared from the 2007 report. The government's written response avoided a clear explanation, stating, "We present what the Public Security Intelligence Agency determined was highly necessary in response to the situation surrounding public safety at the time."

    (Japanese original by Hiroyuki Tanaka, Digital News Center)

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