Religion in Modern Asia Newsletter

Continuing Coverage of Unification Church


As noted in the last issue of the Newsletter, the participation of two well-known Japanese television and sports personalities SAKURADA Junko and YAMAZAKI Hiroko led to sensationalistic media coverage for the Korean-based Unification Church' s mass wedding ceremony held in Seoul August 25.

A number of Japanese weekly magazines and television "gossip" programs are continuing their coverage, and some are now reporting that Sakurada's marriage is already on the rocks. Based on statements by the sister of Sakurada' s new husband AZUMA Nobuyuki, Azuma has been mentally distraught since the wedding, and has attempted suicide three times.

In response to the new coverage, Azuma appeared at a press conference on November 17, denying the rumors and stating that he and Sakurada would begin married life together "sometime early next year." Relatives of Sakurada and representatives of the Unification Church likewise denied the rumors, and blamed the rumors on Azuma's "unstable" sister, who had long been vocerifously opposed to the marriage.

Such denials notwithstanding, some Unification Church watchers in Japan continue to feel that something is amiss with the marriage, since Sakurada has remained away from her home and out of the public eye ever since the wedding, in spite of receiving virtually no work in the entertainment industry. Critics note that if all was well in her new married relationship, Sakurada should be more willing to appear in public.

Whatever the truth of Sakurada' s relationship with Azuma, the continuing coverage can be taken as reflecting the depth of opposition to the Unification Church by the Japanese mass media and a substantial proportion of the Japanese public. The contents of the coverage suggest both the conviction that such religiously based marriages cannot succeed (whatever the statistical evidence) and, as demonstrated by comments that Sakurada has "had no work at all since the wedding," that such public religious activity will of necessity have a negative impact on employment and other aspects of the individual's social life.

-- Dec 1, 1992, Norman HAVENS

Last updated: 2001/11/28 14:33:44

Copyright © 2001 Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University. All Rights Reserved.