Japan's top court hears ex-Unification Church donation case

Japan's Supreme Court has held a hearing in a lawsuit against the group previously known as the Unification Church. A woman who was a member of the group and her daughter sued the group, seeking the return of huge donations the woman made.

The hearing held on Monday was the first of its kind about donations to the group and its recruiting.

The woman who lived in Nagano Prefecture filed a lawsuit with her daughter in 2017, demanding that the group pay more than 180 million yen, or about 1.15 million dollars. They claimed that the woman was forced to donate a large amount of money through illegal practices.

The Tokyo District and High courts rejected their request because two years before the lawsuit was filed the woman signed a note that she would not ask the group to give back her donations. The courts acknowledged that the woman, who was then 86, was also filmed confirming the note's content.

She has since died, and her daughter filed an appeal at the Supreme Court.

A representative for the daughter said her mother was elderly and diagnosed with dementia about half a year after signing the note, so she lacked the ability to make proper judgement.

The representative also argued that the group broke the law by inciting anxiety and fear to pressure its members to donate.

The group argued that the note is valid and it is clear that her mother made the donations of her own free will.

It said if a court acknowledges that people who did not consider themselves victims have the right to sue religious groups they belonged to, all members of any religious organization are eligible to file damages suits.

The top court is scheduled to rule on the case on July 11.