Lawyers call on consumer centers to reject ex-Unification Church's request

A group of lawyers in Japan says a religious group formerly known as the Unification Church is asking consumer centers to provide information on consultations related to the religious group. The lawyers have called on the centers to reject such requests.

The group now called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification is in the spotlight for alleged involvement in a dubious marketing practice known as "spiritual sales."

The National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales provides support for former followers of the group. It held a news conference on Tuesday.

Lawyer Kawai Yasuo said people related to the religious group visited local consumer affairs centers and asked officials about consultations over damage it caused.

He said centers in the prefectures of Osaka and Hiroshima, the city of Nagoya and elsewhere have received such requests.

Kawai said the lawyers' group has asked the National Consumer Affairs Center, a core organization for local consumer centers, to dismiss such requests.

He said the religious group is likely attempting to reduce consultations as much as possible and have in-person negotiations to lower its payment for damage.

The lawyer called on former believers and others related to the damage not to talk directly with the group, but to use the government's consultation window launched on Monday or other means.

The National Consumer Affairs Center said it does not answer questions about what businesses it was consulted on, and will not disclose contents of consultations even if asked.

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification said the visits to the consumer centers were aimed at fully cooperating with the government's policy, and that it also aims to take concrete measures by grasping the overall picture of the damage it caused.

The group added that it is not true that the group is trying to minimize the scale of the damage by gaining information on people who consult the centers.