“Rest of World” Cannot Recognize “The Other World”

 

- Happy Science’s rebuttal against the article, “How a fringe religious movement in Japan built a pro-Trump social media empire” by Rest of World

 

On May 6 2021, an America-based internet news site, Rest of World, published a feature article by Andrew Deck titled “How a fringe religious movement in Japan built a pro-Trump social media empire”. This is a very unfortunate article, which is full of factual errors, and views Happy Science through Mr. Deck’s extremely biased political stance. Mr. Deck is not only ignorant of the East Asian situation, but does not seem to have much interest in human rights issues. He also seems to have little understanding of Japan and religion. While Mr. Deck makes it appear as though he has interviewed some specialists in the area, he actually comes to his ill-conceived conclusions based entirely on his own biased viewpoints.

 

1) Factual errors about Happy Science:

Happy Science did not organize a protest:

In the article Mr. Deck stated that Happy Science organised a pro-Trump protest in Hibiya Park on January 6 2021. However, Happy Science did not organize this protest and told Mr. Deck that this was the case before he published the article. Mr. Deck therefore knew that what he wrote in the article was false but published it anyway because it suited the narrative he was trying to convey to his readers.

 

Lack of religious study:

It is sadly not uncommon for many in the media or writers to treat Happy Science as comparable in some way to Aum Shinrikyo. It is an easy claim to make if you are trying to establish a false narrative. However, the two religious groups couldn’t be more different. It was Happy Science that cautioned the then Japanese government about the dangerous nature of Aum Shinrikyo before it committed the terrorist attack in 1995. Happy Science was aware that Aum Shinrikyo was planning to commit terrorism; it even organized rallies in Tokyo, demanding the government to investigate the facilities of Aum Shinrikyo before it committed a serious crime. Unfortunately, the terrorist act took place the very next day after the rallies. Happy Science received a letter of appreciation from the Metropolitan Police Department of Tokyo for its cooperation in the investigation of Aum Shinrikyo.

The mass media did not understand the difference between good and evil religions. Some media even flattered the criminal group. Sadly, there are still writers who have not learned from the tragedy, even after 26 years.

Mr. Deck also falsely claimed that, “Happy Science retreated from public life” after the terrorist attack by Aum Shinrikyo. This claim contradicts reality. Happy Science conducted large public lectures at the Tokyo Dome with approximately 50,000 attendees in July and December of the same year. Happy Science still released its movies after the incident as well.

 

2) Factual errors about the Happiness Realization Party (HRP):

Fabricating the relationship between HRP and JCU:

Despite the fact that Happy Science informed Mr. Deck that there is no relationship between the Happy Science Group and the Japanese Conservative Union (JCU), he falsely alleged that Happy Science is trying to hide a relationship with the JCU: “Aeba [JCU chairperson] is quick to disassociate himself and the JCU from Happy Science today … The sentiment appears to be mutual.” Mr. Deck’s claim that “Aeba is one example of how the HRP’s failure to build electoral support in Japan has propelled Happy Science and its graduates to look for power abroad”, is totally wrong.

 

The reason why HRP recognizes Mr. Trump:

Mr. Deck further posits that, “Having failed to drum up seats in the national legislature, it seems likely that Happy Science has turned to Trumpism as additional background for its belief system.” This is another factual inaccuracy. Happy Science recognizes Donald Trump from the viewpoint of God. Mr. Trump cherishes the values of freedom, democracy and faith, which Happy Science believes to be essential for realizing the true happiness of humankind. Mr. Trump has tried to create a better world through these values. HRP shares the policies of tax reduction, deregulation and anti-communism with Mr. Trump. However, HRP does not support all of Mr. Trump’s policies. HRP examines each and every policy of Mr. Trump from a free and unbiased stance. Further, Mr. Trump is not necessarily popular in Japan and HRP does not gain support in Japan by supporting Mr. Trump. Mr. Deck’s claim that HRP is willing to “bolster Trump as a proxy actor for its political goals”, is way off base and another false accusation.

 

Wrong criticisms of HRP’s anti-China stance:

Mr. Deck proffers HRP’s platform as “a hard anti-China stance that routinely crosses into overt Sinophobia.” Again, this claim is completely baseless. From God’s point of view, Happy Science has been criticizing the anti-freedom and anti-democratic acts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), such as the persecution of religious minorities, which are not forgivable from the viewpoints of religion, human rights or international politics. China is a totalitarian nation, which denies the notions of freedom, democracy and faith. Happy Science questions if Rest of World knowingly ignores this fact. Unlike certain IT companies, which are seeking business opportunities in China to increase their profits, Happy Science has been courageously fighting against China’s atrocities. Happy Science is taking a principled stand, and to call this “Sino Phobic” is a cheap shot that only serves to highlight Mr. Deck’s unrestrained bias and apparent unawareness of key human rights issues.

Mr. Deck quotes the comments of Mr. Norichika Horie, a professor of religious studies at the University of Tokyo, in which Mr. Horie compares the anti-China stances of Happy Science and Falun Gong: “Happy Science’s anti-China policy is not only a political position but rooted in religious teaching because they think of communism as denying all religious faith.” This comment strikes a chord, in a sense, because HRP was founded for the purpose of achieving the opposite of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

 

HRP did not follow Soka Gakkai:

The founding of HRP did not follow in the footsteps of Soka Gakkai, as Mr. Deck claims. It was founded to create a utopian society in this world by binding the power of the people, who believe in the existence of God, Buddha, and the universal Truth. Although HRP started its political movement in Japan, it eventually aims to spread the movement to people all around the world. HRP aims to establish the Truth on earth, and realize state and political management based on the Truth.

 

The true meaning of separation of church and state:

While Mr. Deck metaphorically criticizes HRP for denying the separation of church and state, the notion of separation of church and state in Japan does not prohibit religious organizations or religious people from participating in politics. The true purpose of the separation of church and state is to prohibit the government from persecuting or supporting any particular religion over other religions. HRP supports this idea. It would contradict the concepts of freedom of thought and beliefs and freedom of religion if religious people are prohibited from participating in politics. Note that the same logic can be applied to the oath of the American President and the existence of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany; they should not be accepted if the notion is to be misinterpreted in the way the article suggests.

 

HRP does not advocate for the remilitarization of Japan through constitutional revision:

Considering Mr. Deck’s claim that HRP advocates “to remilitarize Japan through constitutional revision”, it is clear that he has no understanding of the current situation in Japan. Article 9 of the current Constitution of Japan states, “Army-Navy-Air Force, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained.” This means that Japan is unable to maintain military power to protect itself and its allies, which is a power that is given naturally to any independent nation. While Japan has the Self-Defense Force (SDF), it is unable to use its military force unless it is attacked by another invading nation. The ability of a country to protect its land, people and sovereignty is the minimum right and obligation of a nation under international law. This is the reason why HRP urges Japan to maintain its military power. It is not “remilitarization” whatsoever, as Mr. Deck claims. HRP has never been nationalistic. HRP has been advocating for “freedom, democracy and faith” as the notions that every nation must cherish. HRP aims to realize international justice, peace and independence based on these notions. HRP is a genuine conservative political party, not “ultra-right” as Mr. Deck falsely claims.

 

False accusation against the Rising Sun Flag:

Mr. Deck writes that the Rising Sun Flag is the chosen banner of Japanese nationalists and a symbol of the country’s violent imperial history. However, this flag is used commonly on various auspicious occasions in Japan. It is also the official flag of the Japanese Maritime Defense-Force. The Asahi Shinbun, one of Japan’s major newspapers, also uses the flag as its company flag. The design of the Rising Sun is not unique only to the Japanese flag. The same design is used, for instance, for the state flag of Arizona in the U.S. and the national flag of the Republic of North Macedonia.

Regarding the alleged “denial of Japan’s wartime atrocities”, HRP simply believes that Japan was complying with international law. Dr. Ben-Ami Shillony noted in the interview, “Furthermore, Japan’s war was between combatants, that is, it was an ordinary war. However, Germany’s Holocaust such as the Auschwitz concentration camp was entirely different.”
Happy Science also wishes to point out that it is a one-sided imposition of the victor nations’ values to claim that only Japan committed wartime atrocities. As Dr. Jason Morgan pointed out, the Japanese project in East Asia was for the purpose of liberation, it wasn’t mass murder, and it certainly wasn’t aggrandizement.

 

The Fact does not spread inaccurate discussions:

Mr. Deck criticizes The Fact, a popular YouTube channel operated by Happy Science, as “lending an air of credibility to what are at times sensationalist and inaccurate discussions of international politics.” However, The Fact has been covering various news stories on such issues as the human rights violations in Uyghur and the military base issue in Okinawa, through careful investigation with the purpose of reporting the facts and truths that the mass media do not report. Rest of World is not in a position to criticize The Fact, particularly given the level of false reporting in Mr. Deck’s article.

 

HRP did not follow Falun Gong:

Mr. Deck claims that, “since 2016, … The Epoch Times [the news arm of Falun Gong], has become one of the most fervent promoters of pro-Trump political misinformation.” He then writes, “Happy Science has borrowed media strategies from other fringe religions [such as Falun Gong], and both organizations have used social media to expand their reach and appeal to Trump sympathizers.” However, The Fact started to release news about Donald Trump before 2016. Therefore, it is wrong to claim that Happy Science has borrowed media strategies from other fringe religions.

 

Happy Science leaders’ political opinions are not an order from God:

Mr. Deck quotes the comment of Mr. Yoshiro Fujikura, a freelance writer, that, “The Happy Science leader’s political opinion is an order from God.” However, while Master Ryuho Okawa is the spiritual leader of HRP, actual operational agendas and policies are decided by its party committee, based on Master Okawa’s political beliefs and philosophy. As a side note, Mr. Fujikura was sentenced to a fine of 100,000 yen (suspended for two years) at the Tokyo District Court for trespassing on Happy Science’s property on March 15 this year. If Mr. Deck had known this fact, and quoted Mr. Fujikura’s comment as if he is a neutral third party, his attitude is questionable.

 

3) What Happy Science aims to achieve:

As a legitimate and authentic religion, Happy Science teaches the universal law of the mind in order to save individual souls. God and the spirit world do exist. The life of human beings is eternal. Every human being reincarnates in this and the other world eternally to improve his or her spirituality and to create a utopian society. People are born into this world to give love to others and make this world a better place. Happy Science aims to let people obtain true happiness, that can be carried from this world to the next.

The actual method to realize this happiness is the teaching of the Fourfold Path: the four principles of Love, Wisdom, Self-reflection and Progress. There are countless people around the world who have obtained true happiness by learning and practicing this universal teaching.

The most fascinating feature of Happy Science is the fact that it is an ongoing religion. It is a genuine and authentic contemporary religion, which was started by divine revelation and conveys the true voice of God. Through Happy Science, the modern savior is on earth; people can learn what God is thinking about the various problems which the entire world is facing now. Those who cannot understand (or reject intentionally) this spiritual fact fall into a biased and superficial understanding of this holy religious movement. We sincerely hope that Rest of World and Mr. Deck will not become akin to those who stoned Jesus. Happy Science hopes that Rest of World will not waste its opportunity to study this new religion, which has been spreading happiness to the world from Japan.

Rest of World claims that “the term ‘rest of world’ is a symptom of a larger problem: a Western-centric worldview that leaves innumerable insights, opportunities and complexity out of the conversation.” Given this, it is entirely hypocritical for Rest of World to allow a writer with such prejudice to publish an article with so many falsehoods. Despite its criticism of “a Western-centric worldview,” Rest of World will never be able to reveal the true state of the world through a management stance that permits inaccurate reporting, and that promotes a biased and unfair representation of facts.

 
“Rest of World” Cannot Recognize “The Other World”
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