Tokyo court convicts Salvation Army major for defaming Christian church in Japan

The Tokyo District Court has convicted a Salvation Army major for defaming Christian Today Japan and Christian Today in Korea founder Dr. David Jang after he accused the church of being a cult and being part of the Unification Church, a controversial religious movement from South Korea. The court ordered Major Yamaya Makoto to compensate the church with 950,000 Yen ($9,500).

Tokyo district court Judge Toda Hisashi said that the blog articles published by Makoto did not make a “careful analysis” of the facts on hand and failed to use objective and reasonable grounds when creating his arguments. His accusations that the church “brain-washing their employees” and was actually a dummy organization for the Unification Church, widely believed to be a cult, had no “reasonableness for believing to be true.” Furthermore, the judge said these allegations had affected the respectability of the church and so Makoto had to pay them just compensation. “For an organization that provides information only with respect to Christianity, the effects of being accused as a cult organization most likely have impaired significantly the credibility of its activities,” added the judge. He also ordered Makoto to delete all articles and blog entries that have defamed the plaintiff.

The Salvation Army acknowledges Makoto as part of the organization but says his comments were his own and does not reflect their views. He accused Jang among other things of brainwashing the members of the church and this view was carried by several media outlets in South Korea, who were then prosecuted by the country’s criminal court and found guilty and affirmed by Korea’s Supreme Court on January 28, 2010.