Savings

Unification Church Founder Says People’s Savings in Japan Go to Church Members

Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon, left, and his wife Hak Ja Han are seen in an image from the official YouTube channel of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

The late Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon said during a sermon in South Korea in March 1998 that people’s savings in Japan were “for all of you”, referring to members of the church, found the Mainichi Shimbun in his analysis of 615 volumes of remarks made. by Moon over 53 years.

— Considering Japan as a “source of funds”

The Unification Church, now officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, stresses that it currently views relations between Japan and South Korea as “equal”. Additionally, Moon’s sermons are “readable and not used specifically as guidelines for followers,” according to the group’s public relations division in Japan. But the founder also made statements implying that churchgoers in Japan were expected to hand over their ancestors’ bank books, suggesting that at the time he at least saw the country as a source of income.

The statement regarding financial assets in Japan appeared in a volume of “Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Sermons”, and was translated and confirmed by the Mainichi Shimbun.

The 615 volumes of sermons record Moon’s remarks to followers in South Korea between 1956 and 2009. Each volume, now out of print and hard to obtain, is 300 to 400 pages long. The Mainichi Shimbun confirmed Moon’s comments on a website that the Unification Church’s public relations department in Japan accuses of “illegally reproducing” the entire collection.

The image shows part of “The Sermons of Reverend Sun Myung Moon,” a collection of speeches by the founder of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification given in South Korea. In a sermon, Moon told his followers that the savings in Japan were “for all of you.” (Image partially edited) (Mainichi)

Page 36 of Volume 305 reports that Moon asked his followers during a sermon in South Korea on March 29, 1998: “I heard that there are 1.2 quadrillion economies in Japan. Want to “Do you want to use a thousandth? Do you want to use a hundredth? How much do you want to use?”

The unit for “1.2 quadrillion” was not provided, but is believed to refer to the amount of personal financial assets held in Japan. According to the Bank of Japan, financial assets for the year ending March 1998 amounted to 1,286 quadrillion yen. At the time, these assets were attracting much attention from investors in Japan and abroad interested in a transition from saving to investing.

A buzzword the previous year in Japan was the “Japanese big bang”, referring to the reform of the financial system. Then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto proposed to review regulations to make the best use of the country’s 1.2 quadrillion yen in personal financial assets. Moon’s statements allude to an interest in the “1.2 quadrillion yen in savings” related to the investment.

The religious group at the time called Japan the “Eve Nation”. Using the term, Moon said, “The Eve Nation has already saved money. Who is it for? It’s for all of you, for all of the Unification Church members.”

– The Unification Church denies Japan in a position of subordination

Hideyuki Teshigawara, who heads the Reform Promotion Headquarters of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, is pictured during a press conference in Tokyo’s Shibuya district on September 22, 2022. (Mainichi/ Yohei Koide)

Observers have said the religious group’s doctrines form the backdrop to its view of Japan as a source of funding. The doctrines compare the relationship between Japan and South Korea to Eve and Adam in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. The church claimed that Japan was the “Eve nation” that invaded the “Adam nation” of South Korea, and to atone for this, Japan had a responsibility to serve South Korea.

The current position of the Unification Church, however, is that this line of thinking has been overhauled. Hideyuki Teshigawara, who heads the church’s reform promotion headquarters, said at a press conference, “We now call South Korea the ‘father nation’ and Japan the ‘mother nation.’ Father and mother are basically in an equal relationship, and it’s not about which is superior and which is inferior,” denying that Japan was in a position of inferiority.

Moon indeed states that the terminology of “Adam nation” (South Korea) and “Eve nation” (Japan) has been changed to mean a “father” and “mother” relationship, but according to the list of sermons, there seems to have been no change in his view of Japan as a subordinate.

On pages 170 and 171 of volume 370, Moon is quoted as saying on February 19, 2002: “A long time ago we said ‘Adam nation’ and ‘Eve nation’, but from 1978 we recognized them as dad “. ‘ and ‘mother nation. Accordingly, all Japanese women must re-educate sons and daughters. , even if they are all sacrificed. Then Japan will not perish.”

He further stated, “They are important members of the Unification Church”, referring to the Japanese, at the same time he called on them to “shed sweat, tears and blood”.

Masaki Nakamasa, a professor at Kanazawa University, is seen in this photo he provided.

Masaki Nakamasa, a professor at Kanazawa University who followed the church, commented: “Since the religious group has few followers in South Korea, it had to flatter Japan as the ‘motherland’ so that the followers here, who provide money and human resources, could keep their pride in. It’s rewording the terminology so that people see it as something positive.

— “If you don’t pay, you can’t save your ancestors”

In the March 29, 1998 sermon, in which Moon said the savings in Japan were “for all of you,” Moon also made statements suggesting that the church was referring to ancestors when soliciting donations from worshipers in Japan.

On pages 46 and 47 of volume 305, Moon is quoted as saying, “Money can’t sleep a night in the pockets of the professor (Moon). I have nothing left now, do I? My pockets are empty, so I’m asking anyone to fill them.”

He is then quoted as saying, “But that doesn’t mean I’m asking for a 10,000 yen note. I want you to put in the savings books that you inherited from your ancestors. Women of Japan, are you ready to do it? ?”

A set of seals that a member of the Unification Church purchased can be seen in this image provided by Japan’s National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales.

This is followed by the word “yes”. Then Moon said, “If you don’t give away your savings books inherited from your ancestors, you won’t be able to save them,” and “Your ancestors think, ‘Oh, I want my family to get a blessing too (thanks to donations).”

The group’s founder’s statement, which could be seen as a call for donations to the group for “ancestor salvation”, recalls “spiritual sales” – a marketing tactic to instill anxiety among followers by telling them that the cause of their misfortune is “ancestral karma” to cause them to buy expensive vases and other items.

Criticism of the Unification Church’s spiritual sales erupted in Japan in the 1980s, and the issue became a social issue. In 2009, the chairman of a company belonging to the religious group and others were arrested.

The church again came under scrutiny in July this year due to large donations it received, following the shooting death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The man accused of murdering Abe said he resented the group after his mother gave him large donations. He is believed to have targeted Abe after learning the former prime minister gave a video message to a group closely associated with the Unification Church.

(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Tanaka, Digital News Center; and Hirohiko Sakaguchi and Chiharu Shibue, Seoul Bureau)