A panel will call for an investigation into the activities of the Unification Church

A consumer affairs panel will call for a government investigation into the Unification Church’s questionable sales and fundraising practices, an unprecedented move that could eventually disband the religious organization, sources said.

The Consumer Agency’s expert panel plans to submit its recommendations for the investigation to Taro Kono, the consumer affairs minister, in the near future, the sources say.

Experts have agreed authorities should investigate the church, now officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, under the Religious Corporations Act, the sources said.

If the church is found to have broken the law, it could lose its corporate status and be forced to dissolve.

The panel found a number of court rulings in civil lawsuits that found the Unification Church to be organizationally liable for questionable sales practices and requests for large donations from followers.

So far, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the Cultural Affairs Agency, which oversees religious corporations, have taken a cautious stance toward the Unification Church.

Dissolution orders are rare in Japan. Church supporters said she was not found guilty of breaking any law.

Criticism of the church’s activities resurfaced after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s suspected killer in July told investigators of his grudge against the religious organization.

The suspect said his mother donated almost all of the family’s money to the church and that he targeted Abe because of his ties to the group.

According to the sources, the panel’s draft recommendation points out that the Unification Church has violated legal provisions and taken actions that have seriously harmed the public welfare.

The project also indicates that the church has carried out activities that go far beyond the objectives of a religious corporation.

The provisions of the Religious Societies Act cite these actions as applicable grounds for dissolving a religious society.

The panel’s recommendation will likely call for exercising the authority set forth in the law to request the Unification Church to submit reports as well as to question church officials about past actions.

The law states that reports and interrogations of officials of religious societies should only be conducted if there are reasons to suspect factors justifying the dissolution of the organization.

A real dissolution order would be issued by a court at the request of the Cultural Affairs Agency.

According to the agency, only two dissolution orders have been issued in Japan, and they were issued due to law violations committed by the organizations.

One was the doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo, which carried out the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway and other crimes.

The other was the Myokakuji Temple group, whose leader and leaders were accused of defrauding worshipers by paying exorbitant fees for memorial services for deceased souls.

In both cases, no government investigation was conducted before the courts rendered their decision to dissolve.

Charles K. Eckert