(Legal Response to A Human Rights Violation)
On May 12, 2008, I began civil proceedings in the Tokyo District Court against Soka Gakkai and 7 persons, including some of the top executives officials of the organization.
The lawsuit concerns the attempts to coerce me into abandoning my political commentary activities. This coercion was conducted by Soka Gakkai and persons related to this organization, and included not only libelous statements in the Seikyo Shimbun, but extended to attempts to force huge monetary contributions from myself, attempts that were accompanied by intimidation.
In addition, there were repeated occasions where groups of many unknown people tailed not only myself, but my wife, and even the family of my son.
I am also currently involved in a case before the Tokyo High Court, in which I am struggling to gain the return of documents and notebooks in which I have recorded personal observations for over 30 years. These papers were taken from my home by persons belonging to Soka Gakkai, who were former Diet members of the Komeito.
These kinds of actions have apparently been taken against persons other than myself. For example, my predecessor, the former chairman of Komeito, Mr. Yoshikatsu Takeiri, was subjected to unbearably abusive personal attacks for over 10 years in the pages of the Seikyo Shimbun. I have also been told of numerous incidents where Gakkai members more or less forced people to make enormous large contributions to the organization.
The realization that many persons have received similar treatment fills me with more than just anger at a personal injustice, but of fury as a public citizen.
Prior to filing the suit, my family―which consists of my wife and myself, as well as my son, his wife and their three daughters, who all live in Australia--sent papers to the Soka Gakkai declaring out intent to leave the organization. These papers were sent to arrive on May 1st of this year.
I joined Soka Gakkai over 50 years ago, and during this time I have worked not only as an executive of the organization, but also served as the top executive of Komeito, the party which has SokaGakkai as its largest support base. And thus you may be wondering―why am I now filing suits against Soka Gakkai? This is what I am here to explain to you, the members of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.
As you, the members of the foreign press here well know, Soka Gakkai is the organization that supports Komeito, which in turn is the party that supports the ruling party. As is clear from various public opinion polls, Komeito is a political party that is able to secure parliamentary seats through the all-out support of Soka Gakkai. Almost 100%% of the Diet members and local assembly members belonging to Komeito, belong to Soka Gakkai. Komeito and Soka Gakkai exchange views both officially, through such channels as the Renraku Kyogi-kai (literally, “Liaison and Consultation Council”), as well as unofficially. There are many occasions when the wishes of Soka Gakkai are reflected in Komeito policies, or in the party’s responses to a political situation. As Japanese journalists often report, Komeito sometimes gives the impression that it is an organization designed to defend Soka Gakkai, one that exists to advocate Soka Gakkai’s interests. As often reported in the media, under the single-seat constituency system, in electoral districts where there is no Komeito candidate, Soka Gakkai actively promotes the support of other parties, in particular the LDP. For candidates, Soka Gakkai votes are a weighty matter indeed, as they can have a serious bearing as to whether a candidate wins or loses. When ruling and opposition parties are vying at nearly equal strengths, it can be said that casting vote is held by Komeito, and thereby, in actual fact, by Soka Gakkai.
As can be seen by his meeting last May with President Hu Jintao of China, Honorary Chairman Daisuke Ikeda of Soka Gakkai is very active in the area of civilian, or private-level diplomacy.
Over the past 3 years, however, this huge religious organization, Soka Gakkai, and persons related to it, have conducted various illegal acts against me, acts that can be described as violations of my human rights.
This trampling of human rights, these anti-social acts by Soka Gakkai, an organization that wields such great influence on political activities in Japan, cannot simply be dismissed and overlooked. I myself spent many years as a member of the House of Representatives endeavoring to do what I could to protect fundamental human rights. I also worked to reform politics, by supporting policies that promoted welfare and peace for Japan. As one who has long worked on such issues, I would be abdicating my responsibilities if I were to maintain silence in regard to these actions, and simply allow them to be left unaddressed.
I believe that my publicly disclosing the nature of these antisocial acts by Soka Gakkai, my filing lawsuits, and my coming forward to speak before persons such as you today―I believe these actions are necessary in order to preserve and defend democracy in Japan.
(Human Rights Violations Committed Over the Past 3 Years)
I will now describe chronologically the human rights violations that were committed, and for which I am filing suit in the courts. For purposes of brevity, I will omit explanations of the organizational structure of Soka Gakkai and the names of its various bodies.
1) 3 years ago, on April 20, 2005, a top executive officer of Soka Gakkai called me to a Soka Gakkaifacility and stated that the Seinenbu, or “Youth Division” was angry about an article that I had written 12 years earlier, in the monthly Bungei Shunju magazine. He demanded that I write an apology. Although I could not accept his arguments, his relentless insistence, combined with threats, filled me with such fear that in the end, I followed his instructions and apologized.
2) Beginning that month, April of 2005, the Seikyo Shimbun began to run prominent articles declaring that “Yano has apologized”. This was followed by statements that “apologies through words cannot be trusted, Yano needs to show his remorse through concrete actions!” which increased the feeling of intimidation. At the same time, many groups of unidentified people began to constantly monitor my home, send me harassing phone calls, make uninvited visits, and follow me in small groups whenever I went outside. These monitoring and shadowing activities occurred every day. There were instances when I truly feared for my safety, as, for example, when people would stand immediately behind me on the subway. These activities have continued over the past 3 years, and they continue even today. These are illegal and malicious acts, for which I have filed reports with the police. I intend eventually to take legal action in regard to all of these acts.
3) On May 14, 2005, I met with top executives of the Youth Division of Soka Gakkai, where I was subjected to a point-by-point close examination of the Bungei Shuju article. They emphasized the fact that this article had been used as reference materials in the Diet, when a member of the LDP attacked the SG. Their conclusion was that I was responsible for allowing this attack to occur. I was subjected to a barrage of hostile questions as though I were in a court of inquiry. They also demanded that I give up all of my activities as a commentator. Until then, I had been writing serialized articles, and often appeared on such television programs as Hodo Station and News 23. From this day forward, however, I abandoned all of my commentator activities. The reason for this was that I feared for my safety.
This was clearly a violation of my right to freedom of speech. As such, I am taking legal action against these top executives of the Youth Division.
4) On the following day, May 15, I received a sudden visit by 3 former Komeito executives officials, who were all former Diet Members. They vigorously insisted―their demands mingled with intimidation―that I turn over to them my personal notebooks and various documents spanning some 30 years. Following this visit, these 3 persons made 4 visits to my home, and against my wishes, took all of my notebooks and papers with them. During this time, they twice searched my home, asking repeatedly, “is there even one paper you’re still keeping?” I am now fighting in the courts to have my notebooks returned to me.
These notebooks contain observations and behind-the-scenes details that I recorded during the nearly 30 years I have been active in the political realm. They cover the periods I served as General Secretary and Chairman of Komeito, periods when I was involved in several serious issues surrounding Soka Gakkai. There are notes, for example, that cover the 1970 case involving freedom-of-speech obstruction attempts, the agreement between Soka Gakkai and the Communist Party, the court case involving the monthly Pen Magazine regarding articles about Mr. Ikeda and incidents with women, the two battles with the Head temple Taisekiji (of the Buddhist sect, Nichiren Soshu), and tax investigations of Soka Gakkai by the National Tax Agency. Further, the notebooks include details of negotiations with the heads of other political parties during various Diet battles. They contain many private matters as well.
It is obvious that if the contents of these notebooks were made public, it would be highly inconvenient for many persons. It is therefore quite obvious that I would never have voluntarily handed over these documents.
The search of my home was forced upon me. In spite of my repeated attempts to refuse, I was coerced as a result of intimidation, into opening up my home.
The notebooks in question have yet to be returned to me. The confiscation of my notebooks and documents (and the information they contain) is clearly a violation of my personal property rights, an infringement of my privacy, and an example of human rights abuse.
5) The personal attacks against me at Soka Gakkai gatherings and in their official publications grow fiercer each day. These abusive language used is not the kind of language that should be used by religious persons. As a result of this defamation, I am bringing legal proceedings against SokaGakkai.
6) In June of this year, I had a meeting with 3 executive officials of the Gakkai, in which I strongly protested these human rights violations that had been directed towards myself. Alternately trying to allay my concerns with threatening me, they repeatedly demanded that I sell my home and contribute 200-300 million yen to the organization. I am currently bringing legal proceedings against these 3 persons.
This is an extract explaining the circumstances behind the lawsuit against Soka Gakkai and 7 persons along with a case about the confiscation of my notebooks and documents. I will now move to the courts and continue to decry the problems of human rights violations committed by Soka Gakkai.
Once my written petitions and other documents have been prepared, I will present them to you, even though they will be in Japanese.
I would be happy now to respond to any questions you may have, including question regarding issues beside my lawsuits. There are other major topics that may interest you, such as the relationship between Soka Gakkai and Komeito, and the problem of the unity between religion and politics. If you have questions about my views regarding the future of Soka Gakkai as well as the future of Komeito, I would be pleased to try to respond.
In conclusion, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan for inviting me to speak today. I would also like to end by expressing my hopes that you will continue your work of providing fair and just reporting. Thank you for your kind attention.