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The major elements of the Law to Revise Part of the Religious Juridical Persons Law (Revised Religious Juridical Persons Law), which was promulgated in December 1995 and comprehensively revised in 1996 is as follows:
(1) Jurisdiction over religious juridical persons who posses buildings in multiple prefectures has been transferred from prefectural governors to the Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, bringing the number of religious juridical persons governed by the Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture to 986 (as of 1 July 2000; at the time of the revision, the number was 373).
(2) Religious juridical persons newly created by the revision must submit to the governing authority copies of documentation regarding the working of their organization, such as a list of their members and an inventory of assets. Such documentation was received by 957 out of the 979 religious juridical persons governed by the Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture during the submission period for 1999. Almost all religious juridical persons (excluding those which are inactive) are complying in accordance with the purposes of the document submission system.
The Agency for Cultural Affairs intends to work to appropriately implement the Revised Religious Juridical Persons Law, including continuing to require the submission of documentation, through such activities as the distribution of guidebooks and the holding of workshops for prefectural governments and religious juridical persons, with the further cooperation and understanding of parties concerned.
Those religious juridical persons which have, for some reason or another, ceased their activities since the time of their establishment, are called "inactive religious juridical persons." Inactive religious juridical persons do not have a socially-meaningful existence, and there is a fear that abusive activities such as the so-called "buying and selling of religious juridical persons" or "name-selling" could trigger social problems or damage the public faith in the entire religious juridical persons system.
As such, the government is actively working towards countermeasures for inactive religious juridical persons, and has already begun to consolidate inactive religious juridical persons through mergers or voluntary dissolution. In 1998, for the first time, a request for an order of dissolution * was submitted in court for two inactive religious juridical persons under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture, and the order of dissolution was subsequently granted. In addition, an order of dissolution for one inactive religious juridical person under the jurisdiction of the Minister of Education, Science, Sports and Culture was requested in 1999, and a decision on the order of dissolution was reached by the court in February 2000.
In addition, the Agency for Cultural Affairs has called upon prefectural governments to adopt countermeasures for inactive religious juridical persons, and many prefectural governments have since taken such measures, including requests for orders of dissolution of inactive religious juridical persons (see Table 2-8-3 ).
Furthermore, in order to facilitate the promotion of policies on religion, the Agency for Cultural Affairs prepares guidebooks for the proper management and administration of religious juridical persons, holds workshops designed for people involved in religious juridical persons and people in charge of prefectural religious juridical persons, and contributes to heightening awareness of religious juridical persons as "juridical persons" and improving their management ability.
It is also conducting research on the state of domestic religious organizations as well as religious affairs in other countries, collecting and coordinating statistical data on various religions both in Japan and abroad, gathering general information on religious issues, and performing studies on modalities for supply and consultation systems.
|*Order of dissolution|
In cases where religious juridical persons, in violation of the law, have acted in such a way that is clearly harmful to public welfare, have not conducted activities in line with its objective for more than a year, or have been proven to not be religious organizations at all, the governing authority, stakeholders, or public prosecutors may request the court to grant an order of dissolution of the religions juridical person in question.
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