When dealing with the Agency, second-generation Family Federation believers felt discriminated and humiliated.
by Masumi Fukuda
Article 2 of 4. Read article 1.
The government clearly did whatever it could to downplay the petition favorable to the Unification Church/Family Federation, while promoting the one against it. Once again, I would like to say that this was a case of discrimination. Of course, Family Federation members were outraged by this incident. Even some non-members and politically conservative netizens commented that “This is a discrimination” on Twitter.
I, the author of this article, called the Agency for Cultural Affairs both to protest and to conduct an interview. I spoke to Hiroaki Ishizaki, the head of the Division of Religious Affairs and the person who had cheerfully received the anti-Family-Federation online petition from the hands of Ogawa.
“This is unfair, I said. Why did you accept their online petition but not the Family Federation’s petition hand-signed with real names? According to the media, you answered that you did it ‘because otherwise the reporters would make a fuss.’ Is that true?”
Director Ishizaki answered that, “I got the feeling that the Family Federation did not really want a face-to-face meeting.” “This is not true, I replied. I was told they wanted to bring the petition in person.” “No, this was not the case,” he insisted stubbornly.
When I asked him, “An online petition should carry less weight than a hand-signed one, isn’t it?” he answered, “No, for me they are the same.” He then asked unpleasantly, “Why are you calling me? The Unification Church should contact me directly.” He must have known that the Family Federation had decided to keep a low profile in its dealings with the MEXT, which is the very body that will take a decision on the dissolution request. I believe he was aware of this when he answered me.
Yet, this was the same Director Ishizaki who cheered and encouraged those who brought to him the petition full of pseudonyms, and told them, “I would make sure to gather enough evidence to avoid that the request [for legally dissolving the former Unification Church] will be overturned in court.”
I was left with the impression that, while knowing that their position is unreasonable, the MEXT officers have already decided that, no matter what the results of their investigation will be, they will go on and seek the dissolution of the Family Federation.
Let us listen to the earnest feelings of three second-generation believers who are active members of the Family Federation.
Yuri Saito has a regular job outside of the Federation. “Belonging to this church, she said, has been my reason for living and my joy, so before the assassination of former Prime Minister Abe, I used to tell my friends in my workplace that I was a believer.”
The Unification Church has been criticized since before Saito was born. However, it seems that her friends did not have a bad image of the church. “Whenever my friends were worried about their life or needed for help, she told me, I suggested they should learn about the Unification Principle, because it might change their life. Some freely accepted to come to the church. The people I met through the volunteer work I did with my church friends also seemed to have a good impression of us, and I think we were able to build trustworthy relationships with them. But after the Abe assassination it became difficult for me to tell others that I am a Family Federation believer.”
Saito is a “blessed” second-generation child, meaning she is born of parents who participated in a collective wedding. “I went through a wild time during my school years, she reported, and I kept away from the Family Federation for a long period of time. But I came back, because I thought this was the place where I belonged. Now this place may disappear. It would mean losing my home and my family. This is why, when the idea of the petition came up, I wrote my text and signed it, hoping to show what the Family Federation is really all about, despite all the bad things that are said in Japanese society. I did not think of any disadvantage that might come to me from signing the petition. Rather, I was willing to do whatever I could do.”
This is what Saito wrote in her petition: “I was born and raised as a blessed second-generation believer of the Family Federation, formerly known as the Unification Church. To be honest, there was a period in my life when I kept away from it and I too wished it would disappear. But then I told myself that I did not want to come to conclusions about the church based only on my own superficial feelings, without studying the issue more deeply. I did not want to rely on what my parents told me either. So, I started studying the doctrine and history of the church on my own, because I wanted to understand things more clearly. And I came back. That is why the idea of a dissolution of this organization is now so distressing to me. I think it may be true that in the past some in the church might have caused social unrest and trouble. It might have happened before I was born. Even so, I want to take responsibility for the future as a young believer. Maybe I will not do great things. However, the Family Federation is my family and the place that made me strong, protected me, loved me in the time of need, even when I distrusted those around me and wanted to die. I respectfully ask you not to dissolve the organization.”
Saito’s generation has never been involved in the so-called “spiritual sales” the fraudulent business practices some members of the Unification Church have been accused of. Nor have they been involved in any missionary work where the true identity of the church was concealed, another frequent accusation against the movement. Nor have they ever been forced by their church to reach a quota for the donations.
They are not responsible for incidents of the past. However, because of the tremendous slander by the anti-Unification Church camp and the media, they are now concerned about things that might have happened before they were born, and even feel guilty about them. It is too much.