Cult to pay woman huge compensation over forced donations for ancestors

Mainichi Daily News, Japan/April 11, 2008

A cult has agreed to pay about 230 million yen in compensation to an elderly woman for forcing her to donate a massive amount of money to redeem her ancestors' sins.

The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of Christianity, known as "Toitsu Kyokai" in Japan, has agreed to pay the settlement money to a 70-year-old woman from Chiba Prefecture, who had demanded the cult compensate her for about 220 million yen that she donated to the religious group.

"It is rare that a settlement is reached with compensation whose amount largely surpasses the actual damage figure," said lawyer Masaki Kito at a press conference with the victim on Thursday.

The victim told the press, "I was told that my ancestors were suffering in hell. The amount of money they demanded got higher and higher, and I felt bound by hand and foot."

According to Kito, the woman paid the donations to the cult during a five-year period until 2005. When the woman demanded the cult pay back the donations and pay her compensation, the cult initially didn't comply.

However, after the victim told the cult that she would file a suit against it and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which holds jurisdiction over the religious group, the organization agreed last month to pay the settlement money.

"It was a settlement made between our followers. Our association is not concerned with it," said a representative of the religious group.

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