As reported in the last issue of the Newsletter, Japan's Religious Corporations Law (or Religious Juridical Persons Law) was revised and promulgated as of December 15, 1995, with implementation to be effected no later than one year from that date (to permit time for preparation by affected religious groups and administrative bodies).
Although the law's revision was undertaken in explicit response to revelations of criminal activities by leaders of the new religion Aum Shinrikyô, the revised law contains almost no policing powers, making many people wonder what all the fuss was about.
In that context, a symposium to consider the Religious Corporations Law was held in Tokyo under the auspices of the International Institute for the Study of Religion on November 26, 1995; the proceedings of the symposium have now been published under the title Shûkyô Hôjin Hô wa doko ga mondai ka. Edited by Inoue Nobutaka, this volume provides a concise summary of the issues and debate that has plagued the newly revised law.
The book includes brief presentations and remarks by twelve symposium participants, ranging from representatives of various Japanese religions to legal and religious scholars. Most symposium participants were unanimous in their assessment that while the revised law was in specific response to the Aum Shinrikyô incidents, it will, in fact, be powerless to prevent future occurrences of such crimes. Instead, several speakers voiced the common opinion that some hidden agenda was at work behind the revisions, ranging from an LDP-inspired desire to weaken the power of Sôka Gakkai and its affiliated Komeito Party, to the feeling that the revisions represent a first step toward the imposition of prewar-type government control and intervention in religious activities.
Restrictions on time limited the length of most speakers' comments at the symposium, with the result that the book is best viewed as an overview of the general issue of legal revision, rather than an in-depth study of specific aspects of the law and its history. The book also includes an appendix with the revised portions of the law placed side-by-side with their pre-revision counterparts, thus facilitating comparison of specific areas of change.
In addition to Inoue, symposium participants whose remarks and presentations are reprinted in the book include Abe Yoshiya, Oishi Makoto, Amaya Tadao, Kirigaya Akira, Tanamura Masayuki, Fujiwara Takanori, Motegi Sadazumi, Yamaguchi Hiroshi, Ishimura Koji, Morioka Kiyomi, and Shimazono Susumu.
Kokusai Shukyo Kenkyusho, comp, Inoue Nobutaka, ed., Shukyo Hojin Ho wa doko ga mondai ka, (Tokyo: Kobundo, 1996), 195pp. ISBN 4-335-16030-5.