The New York Times
TOKYO - Former President Bush is planning to spend nearly a week
in Japan this month speaking at meetings sponsored by an organization
connected with the Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.
The organization, the Women's Federation for World Peace, was
founded and is headed by Hak Ja Han Moon, the wife of the church
At the Global Family Festival on Sept. 14 in the Tokyo Dome baseball
stadium, Bush and his wife, Barbara, are scheduled to share the
speaker's podium with Hak Ja Han Moon.
The appearance is being seen by some in Japan as lending legitimacy
to the South Korea-based religious group, which has been accused
of dubious recruiting and fund-raising tactics.
"The Women's Federation for World Peace is a widely known
front organization of the Unification Church," Hiroshi yamaguchi,
a Tokyo lawyer who fights the church's practices, said in a letter
sent to the former president a few days ago. Yamaguchi said the
federation often uses celebrities to lure people to the events,
where church members try to strike up relationships aimed at soliciting
Masako Ochiai, a worker at the federation's Japanese office, said
the person designated to answer questions about Bush's visit was
in China at the U.N. World Conference on Women. She said the
federation engages in charitable work and is distinct from the
church. A telephone number listed for the federation in Washington
James McGrath, a spokesman for bush in Houston, said he did not
know how much the former President would be paid for his trip
to Japan. The primary purpose of the visit is to appear at federation
events in Tokyo and other Japanese cities, McGrath said.
Bush, who also is going to Vietnam and China this month, reportedly
will receive a six-figure fee from Citibank for speeches he will
give in Vietnam. Former President Reagan received about $2 million
from a Japanese media conglomerate for an eight-day visit to Japan
Bush's visit, which has received almost no publicity in Tokyo,
comes at a time when Japan is edgy about unorthodox religious
groups because of the poison-gas attack carried out by the Aum
Shinrikyo sect in the Tokyo subway system in March.
McGrath said the Bushes know that the federation is headed by
Moon's wife but are convinced that it is distinct from the church.
"We were comfortable with the fact that it was not a Unification
Church-sponsored event," McGrath said. "They are not
promoting any kind of cult agenda."
He said that the Bushes had spoken at a federation conference
in Washington this spring at which the religion never was mentioned,
and that other prominent speakers included Coretta Scott King
and Barbara Walters.
"The sense the Bushes have is that these are about family
and about building bridges of friendship between the Japanese
and American people, which is something they wholeheartedly endorse,"
These topics are what the former first couple will speak about
in Japan, he said.
But at a similar "Global Family" festival run by the
federation in Tokyo Dome two years ago, the main part of the proceedings
was a two-hour speech by HakJa Han Moon extolling her husband,
said Hiromi Hoshino, who attended the gathering.
Moon was convicted of income-tax evasion in 1982 and spent nearly
a year in federal prison.
The program for the festival in September 1993 listed the Unification
Church as a supporting organization. A guest speaker was Marilyn
Quayle, the wife of Bush's vice president, Dan Quayle.
A poster advertising the Tokyo Dome festival does not mention
the Unification Church. It states that the conference, with the
theme, "Love will save the Earth," is about protecting
children. Ticket prices range from about $80 to about $150.
Yamaguchi, the lawyer, said he represents a network of about 300
other lawyers who have offered services to more who have offered
services to more than 16, 575 people in Japan who have been victimized
by what are called "spiritual sales." In this practice,
church members pressure someone into buying certain objects or
making large donations on the grounds that it will help their
family's karma or allow a deceased relative to rest in peace.
Although Hak Ja Han Moon is Korean, the 3-year-old women's federation
appears to be mainly a Japanese organization, which says it has
branches around the world.
In April 1994, the federation sponsored a meeting at Purchase
College in Purchase, N.Y., that was advertised as "promoting
peace and reconciliation" among different peoples. The program
turned out to be one praising the Unification Church.