The Unification Church's Japan branch will meet with the press Tuesday in Tokyo over its planned response to last month's request by the government for a court order to dissolve the religious organization over its aggressive donation solicitation tactics, the body said.
Faced with the possibility of a dissolution order and the loss of its tax-exempt status as a religious corporation, Tomihiro Tanaka, the branch's head, is expected to explain the body's plan to deposit up to 10 billion yen ($67 million) to the government, church sources said.
The funds will be used to compensate victims, such as former followers and their family members, many of whom are seeking damages over forced donations and for putting families in ruinous situations, the sources said.
At the press conference, Tanaka will make a statement on former followers' complaints about being pressured into making the exorbitant donations, they added.
A senior official of the branch said at a press conference held shortly after the government filed the request for a court order to disband that it will fight the move in court.
The branch's plan to set aside a pool of funds for compensation comes amid Japanese lawmakers discussing ways to ensure that the assets of the South Korean religious movement's Japanese affiliate will stay in the country and be used to help victims.
There has been speculation that the group may transfer its assets overseas before a dissolution order is issued.
A group of lawyers supporting victims in Japan said about 130 people have been confirmed as victims of the religious group's forced donations, with damages adding up to an estimated sum of over 4 billion yen. But the lawyers believe there are far more unconfirmed cases, meaning the total could end up being around 100 billion yen.
Tuesday's press conference will be Tanaka's third since the religious body came under renewed scrutiny due to the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July last year.
The shooter, whose mother made large donations as a follower of the Unification Church, has said he was upset with the religious group's perceived connections with Abe.
In an interview with Kyodo News in March, Tanaka admitted that the organization accepted some large donations without giving enough consideration to their potential impact on the lives of donors' family members.
Regarding allegations that the church scared its followers into making donations, Tanaka said he is sorry if such conduct took place.
The government filed the request to the Tokyo District Court for a dissolution order on Oct. 13, saying its nearly yearlong investigation into the group found repeated malicious and illegal acts at an organizational level, including soliciting large donations from its followers.
According to an investigation by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Unification Church was found to have caused around 20.4 billion yen in damages to some 1,550 victims, as of the time the government made the request to court.
If the court accepts the government's request, the Unification Church, formally called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, will lose its religious group status and tax advantages, though it would be able to continue its activities in Japan.