NGO Seeks Help From Advocates of Human Rights and Religious Freedom to Stop the Persecution

GLOBALPR.LINK - TORINO, Italy (October 10, 2023) Bitter Winter, a magazine of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), has been following the Japanese government’s unusual and intrusive investigation—and possible liquidation—of a minority religion, which began after the July 2022 assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Dr. Massimo Introvigne, editor-in-chief of Bitter Winter, recently interviewed Moriko Hori, president of the Women’s Federation for World Peace Japan (WFWP), about the persecution and discrimination her NGO is experiencing at the behest of a hostile lawyers’ group.

That group—the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales (NNLSS)—has been at the forefront of attacking the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification/Unification Church. 

The Family Federation and WFWP share the same founders, Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, but are separate organizations; nevertheless, the NNLSS has been slandering WFWP Japan and its women volunteers as well.

WFWP Japan is an independent service organization that welcomes women volunteers of any faith—or no faith—and serves low-income women and children in 50 countries. Its founding organization, Women’s Federation for World Peace International, was recognized in 1997 by the United Nations, which granted it general consultative status at its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). This status is reserved for “fairly large, established international NGOs with a broad geographical reach” that have offered “substantive and sustained contributions” aligned with the aims of the United Nations in multiple fields.

“Women who are part of WFWP Japan, including many who are not members of the Family Federation and never were, live in a very difficult situation. Their lives have been shattered, and they are bullied and discriminated daily in many different ways,” said Mrs. Hori.

For instance, one city suddenly informed WFWP Japan it was prohibited from using its public facilities for events because WFWP “causes fear among” the city residents, Mrs. Hori said. But this notification was “particularly absurd, given that WFWP, as a volunteer organization, has been contributing to the community … for 30 years, with projects that the local citizens know and appreciate.”

Another casualty of apparent bigotry is the WFWP Japan’s flagship project—a speech contest for female foreign students on their abilities to speak Japanese. “On June 15 of this year, NNLSS issued a protest against the Speech Contest, requesting that local governments and universities should not permit the use of public facilities by WFWP Japan,” she told Dr. Introvigne. “WFWP members were astonished by this protest,” she said. The Speech Contest, which has been conducted for 26 years, “has been widely praised as a way of supporting international female students who come to Japan.”

Mrs. Hori said WFWP Japan is appealing to the United Nation Human Rights Council and also seeks support from groups that work to protect human rights and religious freedom.

“The persecution and interference against WFWP, its members, and those who receive help from the organization are acts of religious hatred and clear violations of human rights,” she said. “I believe that only international support may change this situation” by contacting the Japanese government and “telling them this persecution should cease.”**

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