Soka Gakkai's French Connection
Japan Times Weekly
Nov. 4, 1995
A strange thing happened at Fumihiro Joyu's first press conference at the Foreign correspondents' Club of Japan. A sleight-of-hand trick was performed in front of dozens of news cameras, and clearly, many people in the Japanese media were pretending not to notice.
Why did Joyu, the media spokeman of Aura Shinrinkyo, meet the foreign press April 4? Because he knew that the Japanese media would never report the evidence that he was prepared to present.
What Joyu claimed -- and what was recorded on videotape by major networks -- is that Aum's "self-defense" squads, which have been accused of various kidnappings and murders, were trained and organized by former members of the Soka Gakkai using methods developed by SG's own security forces.
Joyu identified 27 Aum self-defense personnel as former Soka Gakkai members, and charged that many of these individuals mysteriously disappeared after the Sakamoto and Kariya kidnappings and before the subway gassing. One member of Aum's self-defense team described his training in strong-arm tactics in Soka Gakkai, and claimed that identical techniques were used in Aum.
These revelations could still have a direct bearing on the puzzling series of violent crimes attributed to Aum. So why haven't they broadcast or reported by the print media?
Because, at the close of the press conference, a foreign male, posing as a Frenchman, claimed to have taken photographs that proved No. 7 Satyam was an operating chemical-weapons plant. The next part of his act was to accuse Joyu of lying. An investigation by the Weekly has shown that the cameraman was not French as he claimed to the Japanese media. The Embassy of Italy confirmed that he is an Italian citizen. A call to his talent agency revealed that he also worked as an advertising model for a major department store's menswear department a year before appearing as a dancer in a recent malt liquor commercial.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police categorically asserted that it was not physically possible for any photographer, much less a foreign one, to have taken the photos as claimed. The building's perimeter was heavily guarded, according to a police spokesman, and access was restricted to investigative officers.
An inquiry with district prosecutors indicated that any violation of restricted areas under police investigation constitutes a criminal offense (as well as grounds for deportation). So as not to further incriminate this individual, the Weekly is not releasing his name. (Several American and European journalists in Tokyo have also complained that they have been professionally slandered by this same person.)
What about the photos? The police are investigating their source. Why did this Italian poseur claim to be a Frenchman? According to European journalists, his past associations -- which provided journalistic legitimacy to his media activities in Tokyo -- were with Paris-based publications. Though his photos have also appeared in some Japanese magazines, his first major French association was with a Paris-based weekly magazine called VSD. What does VSD have to do with Soka Gakkai?
The acronym VSD, (pronounced vah-ess-day), which stands for Vendredi-Saraedi-Dimanche (Friday, Saturday, Sunday), is a racy scandal magazine (with an unusually large volume of stories on Japan) published by a Paris-based media group. In August. it was revealed that the VSD general director, Jean-Pierre Canat, is a high-level official of Soka Gakkai International France, and that the media group's companies have been used by the sect to penetrate French political circles.
The charges, published in the weekly L'Evenement du Jeudi, go much further: They allege that Canat may be linked to a break-in and eavesdropping at the EDJ offices, and that France's counterintelligence service suspects Soka Gakkai of having been engaged in espionage.
In an article titled Ombre Japonaise (Japanese Shadow), EDJ investigative reporter Serge Faubert explained that four auditors are currently reviewing the invoices of VSD to untangle Canat's web of financial dealings. When questioned by Faubert, the VSD president- general director, Francois Siegal, claimed the audit was ordered because Canat had led a high-flying lifestyle and became mired in debt. But it appears that the probe is being driven by France's counterintelligence service. It should be noted that the Aug. 17-23 issue in which Faubert's article appeared, and an earlier one exposing SGI-F, have mysteriously disappeared from the few Japanese libraries that stock French periodicals. The Weekly obtained a copy overseas.
The spying charges against Soka Gakkai International France, which claims 152000 members, were further detailed in a recent issue of the Shukan Bunshun. Quoting the newspaper Le Parisien, it reported that a secret network of Soka Gakkai operatives allegedly infiltrated the Mitsubishi group offices in Paris, which were used as cover for intelligence operations. It did not specify whether the secret agents were corporate employees sent from Japan or local hires, or a combination of both.
According to Le Parisien, the sect also tried to purchase a site next to one of France's most sensitive nuclear-research facilities. According to the Bunshun, the sect's spying had the support of Japan's diplomatic corps, specifically two former ambassadors of Japan to France, Akitane Kiuchi and Yoshihiro Nakayama.
In December 1992, Soka Gakkai-France pressed a libel suit against the newspaper Le Parisien in a Paris court for publishing charges that SGI-F agents had conducted nuclear spying. Nakayama filed a deposition as both an individual and a Japanese government official on behalf of the plaintiff, Soka Gakkai. He attested to its peace-loving principles and record of good works overseas.
Kiuchi, a former political secretary to the late Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka (who was linked to Soka Gakkai donations, in the book Tanaka Kakuei: Godfather of Japan, by Hirotatsu Fujiwara), joined the Foreign Ministry, and served as ambassador to Thailand and Malaysia before his appointment as envoy to France. He filed an affidavit certifying SGI's morals in November 1992, just four months after leaving his ambassadorial post.
Le Parisian won the libel case in lower court; Soka Gakkai, aided by the government officials' affidavits, managed to have the verdict overturned at the district level. In the near future, the case will be heard by France's Supreme Court, which will likely hear new evidence from the counterintelligence probe.
The sect's boldest intiative in France, according to Faubert of EDJ, has been its penetration of the human-rights group France-Libertes, led by Danielle Mitterrand. The Mitterrand affair started in 1988, when Kiuchi served as ambassador to Paris. In that year, an EDJ investigative team was tipped by an architect who complained that she had been cheated out of first prize in an architectural contest sponsored by the Mission of the Bicentennial of the French Revolution. The architect charged that Jean Pierre Canat had used his position with the VSD to influence the outcome, in revenge for her past criticisms against Soka Gakkai-France.
The subsequent media investigation revealed the sect's widespread use of bilateral cultural fronts to develop links with academic and political circles. The VSD opened the gates to the Bicentennial Mission, but it was just one of many stepping-stones for Soka Gakkai to political influence in Paris.
Since the mid-1970s, Daisaku Ikeda's key contact in France was the art critic and historian Rene Huyghe. As president of the Artistic Council of National Museums. Huyghe had organized several art exchanges -- French painting ex