Government: Money from former Unification Church cannot be accepted

The Japanese government says it will not accept money that the religious group widely known as the Unification Church has offered to provide as part of a compensation package.

The group announced on Tuesday that it would entrust up to 10 billion yen, or about 66.4 million dollars, to the government. The group wants a fund to be created. It wants the money to be used to compensate people, if necessary. Some individuals say that they or their relatives fell victim to the organization's donation collection tactics or other practices.

But the government says it cannot accept the money because there are no legal grounds for it to do so. Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu suggested that compensatory money of that kind can only be provided in accordance with a legal provision.

The ruling and opposition parties are separately drafting measures aimed at helping people who claim that they were harmed by the group's practices. The parties say the religious organization's intentions are unclear.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito plan to submit their proposal in mid-November, after members of their working group interview the victims. They are thinking of taking legal steps to prevent the group from transferring its assets overseas. They may also increase the number of consultation services available to the victims.

In the opposition camp, Constitutional Democratic Party's Diet Affairs Chief Azumi Jun stressed that legal grounds need to be created to enable people to receive compensation after the organization loses its status as a religious corporation. Japan's education and culture ministry has asked a court to remove the group's status.

Azumi's party and Nippon Ishin Japan Innovation Party have both submitted bills designed to preserve the group's assets, so the funds can be used to provide compensation. They plan to ask the ruling parties to support the passage of the bills during the current Diet session.