Japan’s culture minister plans to bolster staff to investigate former Unification Church

Japan’s education and culture minister said she was working to increase her staff to prepare for an investigation into the religious organization previously known as the Unification Church.

Nagaoka Keiko was tasked by Prime Minister Kishida Fumio with launching the investigation, based on the “right to ask questions” under the Religious Societies Act.

The former Unification Church is under scrutiny for allegedly running shady marketing schemes and soliciting large donations from its followers.

The Cultural Affairs Agency has launched a panel of experts to prepare an investigation. The agency’s Religious Affairs Division is in charge of the process.

Nagaoka told reporters on Friday that the division had eight permanent employees, but several of them came from the Ministry of Education. She added that she is trying to increase the number, as it is still not enough.

The Cultural Affairs Agency is to move from Tokyo to Kyoto next year. When asked if the move could affect the investigation, Nagaoka suggested that part of the religious affairs division would likely stay in Tokyo to continue working on the religious group.

The division’s staff is likely to be increased to more than 20 by inviting employees with law degrees from other government offices.

Depending on the outcome of the agency’s investigation, the government could seek a court order to dissolve the former Unification Church as a religious corporation, which would strip the group of its tax benefits.

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