The Japanese government is making arrangements to seek a court order to disband the Unification Church as early as Oct. 13, government sources said Friday.

The move would follow a months-long probe into the religious group found its practices, including pressuring followers to make massive donations, constituted violations of the law.

The Cultural Affairs Agency is considering convening a meeting of an advisory body on religious institutions next Thursday before proceeding with its dissolution request to the Tokyo District Court, which will make a judgment based on the evidence submitted by the government, the sources said.

File photo taken on Jan. 21, 2023, shows a building in Tokyo's Shibuya district that houses the Unification Church, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. (Kyodo)

Scrutiny of the group intensified after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot during an election campaign speech last year over his perceived links to the entity, an incident which also brought to light its connections with many ruling party lawmakers.

The government apparently aims to restore public trust by taking a firm stance against the religious group.

"As there are concerns about protests and other issues, we hope to file the request for dissolution after the (agency) meeting without delay," a government official said.

So far, only two religious organizations have received a dissolution order from a Japanese court because of legal violations. One was the AUM Shinrikyo cult, which carried out the deadly 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system.

It took around four months for the dissolution order to AUM to be issued following the filing of the request, and it is expected that the Unification Church's case will also be prolonged.

The agency has invoked its authority to question and obtain documents from the group seven times since last November, while also collecting statements from victims pressured into making massive donations.

Examination of this information led the agency to conclude that the group's practices meet the requirements for a dissolution order under the Religious Corporations Act.

The law allows Japanese courts to order the dissolution of a religious group that has committed an act "clearly found to harm public welfare substantially."

If dissolved, the Unification Church, founded in South Korea in 1954 and formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, would lose its status as a religious corporation in Japan and be deprived of tax benefits, although it could still operate as an entity.

Many in Japan have reported financial problems involving the Unification Church. It has also been notorious for "spiritual sales," in which followers are forced to buy vases and other items for exorbitant prices through coercion, such as invoking negative "ancestral karma."

The group has also been found responsible in some civil lawsuits filed over huge donations.

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