It has been brought to our attention that some journalists and scholars who have strong anti-Japan sentiments are trying to damage AJCN’s reputation by connecting us to a religious group which they consider a "cult" and also to an individual they consider a "racist". We initially thought it did not deserve our comment. However, we decided to officially clarify our position this time because we recently received a call from one journalist working for an Australian TV station and he one-sidedly accused us of associating with them.
This journalist rang the Consulate General of Japan in Sydney, and asked, “Does the Consulate General of Japan associate with AJCN, Happy Science and Zaitoku-kai?”
The journalist asked us if we were related to a religious group called Happy Science led by Mr Ryuho Okawa. We assume this allegation stems from the fact that Mr Brian Rycroft, who was the minister of the Happy Science Church in Lane Cove North, NSW at that time, made a speech in the Strathfield Council extraordinary meeting on 11 August 2015 against the comfort woman statue proposed by the anti-Japan Korean activists. It was the council's decision to randomly select speakers from a pool of all applicants.
Mr Rycroft contacted us just before the extraordinary meeting to inform us that he would be putting his name in the hat to express his opinion as a resident of Sydney regarding the proposed statue. He contacted us as one of the citizens, not as a representative of the organization. He contacted us to let us know that his participation could reduce the chance of our speakers being selected. We simply respected his motivation and decision to participate in this matter. In the morning of the meeting, his name was selected in the lottery and he made a speech in front of the councilors.
Mr. Rycroft and AJCN shared the similar view regarding the statue: we were both opposing the erection of politically motivated statue on our local land. Even though we had never interacted each other before, we were able to exchange our views and opinions on this matter. In fact Happy Science made it clear to us as an organization that they do not want to be regarded as a part of us as they always have their own ways of thinking based on their teachings. We appreciate their opinion on this issue and we feel the same way. I was once interviewed by their monthly magazine editor but it was merely one of the requests I received from various media.
The above mentioned Australian journalist asked us, “Don’t you think they (Happy Science) are crazy? Do you welcome them?” Our answer is that we are not concerned with what they believe in. It is nothing to do with our business and we do not criticise other people’s religion unless they conduct anti-social activities.
Ms Yumiko Yamamoto of Nadeshiko Action
We were acquainted with Ms Yamamoto because she posted the information about the Comfort Women statue issue in Strathfield on her website. A local Japanese mother, who read the article on the website, sent messages to Japanese residents in Sydney and I also received her deeply concerned message about the act of the anti-Japan activists. It was the receipt of her email message that prompted us to form the AJCN to help the local Japanese mothers.
We overheard that Ms Yamamoto used to be a member of a group called “Zaitoku-Kai” which is a group calling for repeal of alleged special benefits given to Korean residents living in Japan such as reduced municipal tax. For this, the Zaitoku-Kai has been heavily criticized for their use of abusive words against local Korean residents in Tokyo. Ms Yamamoto does not seem to hide the fact that she used to be a member of the group and left for a certain reason.
Apparently, some journalists and scholars are accusing us of self-contradicting by associating with Ms Yamamoto whom they consider as an overt racist. The particular journalists criticized us for attending the same conference in February 2016, which meant for them that I, the leader of AJCN, is standing on the same platform with the infamous racist.
First of all, AJCN does not agree with Zaitoku-Kai’ s style which is completely opposite to our motto “Non-confrontational rationalism” and we have no contact with them to date. As Ms Yamamoto no longer belongs to the Zaitoku-Kai nor conduct offensive demonstrations herself, we have no reason to confront her now. Once again, just like the case of Happy Science, we can speak to each other on specific local matter that can affect our life in region. The conference which the journalist refers to as an evidence for our connection to Ms Yamamoto was officially attended by 20 speakers including parliamentarians, scholars, and journalists on a topic which had nothing to do with Zaitoku-Kai. Ms Yamamoto and I happened to attend the same conference along with many other people, and clearly it doesn't imply that I'm associated with Zaitoku-Kai at all.
It is unprofessional for any journalist to defame somebody by forcibly connecting the person to other parties which are obviously not related to. AJCN’s purpose which has always primarily worked for the protection of local Japanese communities and children’s welfare – not criticising nor confronting people even if we are not in complete agreement unless we have a genuinely compelling reason to do so.
Australia-Japan Community Network