Japan govt. receives 2nd batch of responses from ex-Unification Church

Japan's culture ministry says it has received a dozen boxes of documents from the religious group widely known as the Unification Church, in response to additional questions sent to the group about its activities.

Ministry officials are looking into the organization's alleged dubious marketing practices and solicitations of large donations from its followers.

The ministry is doing so by exercising its legal authority to question a religious corporation. It first sent a list of questions in November, followed by more last month.

The documents received on Friday were in response to the second round of inquiries. It included questions about past civil court rulings that found the group or its followers responsible for unlawful acts.

The religious organization was also asked what it has done to honor a pledge it made in 2009 to strengthen legal compliance.

Ministry officials plan to study the materials they have received. Informed sources say officials are already considering exercising the right to question the group for the third time. They say the documents received after the first round of inquiry lacked clarity on the group's chain of command and flow of funds.

If the ministry confirms facts that warrant the group's disbandment as a religious corporation entitled to tax benefits, it will consider asking a court to issue such an order.

Meanwhile, a new law aimed at offering relief to victims of the organization's fundraising practices took effect on Thursday.

A group of lawyers supporting victims issued a statement on Friday, asking for a new system that would enable anyone to report to the Consumer Affairs Agency if damage from unlawful solicitations of donations is confirmed.

Lawyer Abe Katsuomi said the government needs to put in place a system to receive and handle reports of legal violations, in order to enhance the effectiveness of the new law.