Happiness through Japanese Politicians?

Ryuho Okawa (大川 隆法) is the founder of the Happy Science religious organization and the Happiness Realization Party political party in Japan

Ryuho Okawa (大川 隆法) is the founder of the Happy Science religious organization and the Happiness Realization Party political party in Japan

If this was any other country I think you’d assume that a political party named the “Happiness Realization Party” was a hoax (or a bunch of hippies). But this is Japan and if the amount of donations to fight the next election is any gauge, I think it is safe to say that this new party on the Japanese political scene is very serious.

It’s more than likely that you’ve heard their trucks driving around near you because the Happiness Realization Party (幸福実現党) are fielding a candidate in every one of the 300 single-seat electoral districts (小選挙区, shosenkyoku) and if that wasn’t enough they are also providing a list of a whopping 45 candidates for the proportional-representation constituency (比例区, hireiku).*1 While their “uguisujo” (鶯嬢, noisy hired help shouting out politicians names from vans) don’t mention it directly, the Happiness Realization Party are actually a close affiliate of the shinkoshukyu (新興宗教, slightly controversial religion) known as “Happy Science”. The patriarch of the religion is a relatively young fellow called Ryuho Okawa (大川隆法) and until recently his wife, Kyoko (大川きょう子), was the head of the political party.

*1 While I can understand the logic of fielding a candidate in every electorate, surely they party faithful were smoking a little bit much pot when they thought there was any hope of 45 candidates getting through in the hireiku.

The religious group is known for its rich members and huge average donation size. The election seems to be no exception. Happy Science have put their foot on the pedal and demanded that without at least 10 statues of “El Cantare” and 2 “bodhisattvas” per electorate then they won’t be able to field a candidate.

Opened in December 2001. Tokyo-Shoshinkan is a magnificent temple built in a prestigious area of Tokyo by the religious group Happy Science

Opened in December 2001. Tokyo-Shoshinkan is a magnificent temple built in a prestigious area of Tokyo by the religious group Happy Science

That is Happy Science speak for demanding 50 million yen of donations per electorate! (El Cantare is the religious name for Okawa and the group sells his statues (エル・カンターレ像, erukantaarezo) to believers at the bargain basement price of 3 million yen a pop (US$30,000). A ‘super doner’ who donates more than 10 million yen to the religion in a particular year (US$100,000) can automatically gain enlightenment and become a bodhisattva (shokufukubosatsu、植福菩薩).) Simple math shows us that the party is expecting a minimum of 150 oku yen (US$ 150 million) across the 300 electorates plus whatever donations are ‘required’ to assure the victory of their hireiku candidates.

In reality you probably need between 25~35 million yen per candidate to run a basic campaign and cover costs like posters, rent for a campaign office etc. Given that Happy Science are asking for a minimum of 50 million yen per candidate they are clearly budgeting for an aggressive marketing campaign as well. You can get a feel for it on their Youtube channel. Surprisingly for a party with little history, many of their policies are quite creative and some are quite well thought out. (I suppose I should have expected that given that Ohkawa is a graduate of Tokyo University Law (東京大学法学部) and the Grad School of the City University of New York where he studied FX).

Some of their policies include:

  • Stimulate spending by scrapping consumption tax, gift tax and also inheritance tax for people who look after their parents in their old age
  • Increasing the Japanese population to 300 million (including 100 million immigrants) in order to achieve 4% annualised GDP growth.
  • Change the constitution to state clearly Japan’s right to a (slightly offensive) self-defensive force in order to “stop” North Korea. Where necessary Japan should ‘rent’ nuclear weapons from America or Russia and they fund any military expansion by creating a ‘defence fund’ where they offer economic returns to investors.
  • Link all of Japan with a linear motor car and encourage North Korea (after achieving peace by assassinating Kim) and China to help build an underwater tunnel so that we can link Japan with the rest of Asia and ultimately the rest of the world with the same train network.
  • Remove the ban in the constitution on mixing religion and politics (政教分離原則, seikyobunrigensoku).

I find the final point to be a very interesting topic for debate. Why shouldn’t there be a link between politics and religion? When I asked the question to my local candidate she actually had a pretty good come back. “Look at America. Look at France.” She said, “Can you tell me that Christianity is not a large part of their political power?” I think she is actually right. Why is it “fair” for the Japanese to put up with a constitution and political system forced upon them by General MacArthur (he himself a devout Christian) that denies them of the freedom to vote for a religious politician (especially when Americans have the right to and actively exercise it). Ryuho Okawa and KimWhen I pushed her a little further (bringing up the ‘problems’ of such a political system that were evident in the second world war), rather than getting defensive she was quick to point out that the problem was within Shinto (神道, the Japanese national religion at the time) and not the concept itself (naruhodo).

I guess the next question is whether or not it makes sense to be comparing Christian political leaders of the Western World with Okawa-san at Happy Science. After all he does claim that he is the incarnation of El Cantare, a 9th degree spirit who was originally sent to the Earth from Venus 600 million years ago. Better yet, he claims that he is a channeller for many religious leaders of the past and so was sent to the Earth to continue the preaching of Jesus, Hermes, Buddha, Confucius and – amongst others – Kim Jong Il.

At it’s peak in the mid 90s, Happy Science was said to have over 10 million members. Perhaps even more interesting is that it is said to have a higher average donation size than other religions and appeal especially to rich people. They fund their extravagant temples around the world (Japan, New York, London, Seoul, etc) they have been known to speculate in volatile shares and also sell numerous religious paraphernalia at egregious prices (up to 1 million yen for pendants, emblems, small statues etc). Their members believe that if they pray hard (and donate) enough that they will be able to achieve personal goals so the sale of kigan (祈願, prayers) (a little like the Ema in shinto. makes a good sign business. Unlike Shinto though, the Happy Science people cut to the chase and offer you kigan for things you really want:

  • わが社株高騰祈願 (The shares of my company go up prayer)
  • 社長出世祈願 (I become the president of my company prayer)
  • 感染症予防祈願 (I don’t catch any diseases prayer)
  • 英会話ベラベラ祈願 (Totally fluent in English prayer)
  • 天才児養成祈願 (my child turns into a genius prayer)

Keieinyumon - By Ryuho Ogawa

Keieinyumon - By Ryuho Ogawa

But they also come at a price (the above cost between USD300 〜 USD30,000). Okawa is said to have written over 500 books but if I was to read only one of them, I’m pretty sure it would be his book on how to run and grow a business (keieinyumon, 経営入門―人材論から事業繁栄まで―). He actually refers to his experience in starting a religion from scratch and building it into the “largest organisation in Japan” in terms of running a business and the power of manipulating people! I guess we should commend him for being honest but gee, isn’t that just a little too transparent?

If nothing else, you’ve got to credit the Happiness Realization Party for the timing of their political run. If there is ever going to be an election where people are willing to vote for someone other than the LDP then this is the year. The voter turnout is likely to be higher this year than it has for decades. That means (for a change) that the pollies elected this year will be closer to a fair representation of what Japanese citizens really want. If there are enough wallys out there to vote in one of their candidates then why shouldn’t that segment of Japanese society (and their kool-aid) be represented in parliament?

16 thoughts on “Happiness through Japanese Politicians?”

  1. This seems eerily reminiscent of “Friend” from 20th Century Boys.

    But since he virtually admits he started a religion for money and power, he may not really have psycho cult-leader delusions of grandeur.

  2. I was having lunch in Shibuya the other day and noticed Dr. Nakamatsu was doing his usual pitch at national politics down at the crossing. What was a little out of left field for me was that he was standing for the Happiness Realization Party. I guess that goes to show you that they do have rich members. I wonder how long he has been a “believer” Kinda eerie when you see someone famous who you’ve read a lot about in the paper standing for a cult like this. I don’t know if I’ll buy any more of his inventions…

  3. Wow, sounds like a Japanese Scientology.

    Also in the Church and State that part where she lumps all Christians into one is just ignorance; sure they might follow the same guy but they all hate each other.

  4. The split of religion and state is was a major achievement in the development of western culture and democracy after years of the Church ruling state affairs of Europe, either directly or indirectly. I suggest the author look more into the historical origins of this to appreciate more the necessity.

    when a group claims that their authority is from God there is no comeback and leaves open the space for corruption of mans bright ideas…like the spanish inquisition etc etc.
    So such a group coming into power would be a huge backwards step for democratic process and path the way for country to become like Nth Korea with a “Divine Leader”…im sure he admires the work done on that place!

    He has obviously refined the art of mass motivation,coersion and knows the effeciency of being a dictator…no questions makes implementation of policy sooo smooth. Under the guise of “look at waht good im doing for the country” he will ursurp absolute control….like the Colonials said to the colonies…”whinging natives…we built them steam trains and schools and revolution is all the thanks we get”…yea, well they forgot about self determination and things like control of the means of production, expecting gratitude in exchange for exploitation.

    I dare say many members have found ways to shift funds by purchasing overly inflated staues etc. laundering of cash and tax cuts is the rub here…so its a clever front for the yaks to gain political leverage thru the democratic process under the guise of a religion

    perhaps Stippy can prove its a 10th dimension spirit, better than this dude, and sell tshirts for one mill a pop….

  5. you hit the nail on the head, gman. but surely that raises the question “why can a party like this LEGALLY exist in Japan?”. i don’t know the answer and i have a funny feeling that okawa doesn’t either. There must be a reason why when he started the party he instated his wife as the leader and wasn’t going to stand for government. That said though he clearly had bad advice from someone up top when he decided to shaft his wife and takeover has party (and cult) leader and stand for a seat in parliament. I reckon he lasted 3 weeks before (earlier this week) he announced that he didn’t think it was appropriate for a deity like himself to stand for parliament. It sounds like there was a lot of pressure on him from LDP politicians who didn’t feel comfortable having to make the choice between their original party (LDP) and their religion (happy science). Personally that makes me more worried. How many, exactly, of the LDP are (fully paid) card holders of happy science. There must be a few if they are powerful enough to ask Okawa to step down. Although I’m guessing Okawa will be enjoying the fact that it gave him an excuse to tell the world how many powerful politicians already support him (spiritually).

  6. If you look for more about this crazy religion, you’ll find that the guru Okawa is closely connected to the South Korean society who believes in Buddism. Okawa claims he is the reincarnation of Buddha. Hahaha. (You may know already that so-called Toitsu-kyokai, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity uses the tenet of christianity.)

    I know one movie star who suggested injured firemen to drink vegetable oil to heal their wounds when the 9.11 occurred…and I can’t tell who has the biggest ballon head.

  7. Brief update on how the election went:
    After all that hype the Happiness Realization Party campaign ended in a farce. Despite fielding hundreds of candidates they didn’t win a single seat. Their best chance should have been in the proportional representative “hirei” seats (where komeito get all of their votes) but very, very few voted for them at all. Their % of hirei votes ranged from 0.51% in Tokyo to a rather unspectacular peak of 0.87% in Shikoku. The election is probably the closest we will ever get for a feel of how many “real believers” they have in Japan. A quick tally of their votes across each of the 11 hirei blocks gives me 459,387 voters (about 0.66% of all voters and a much smaller percentage of the population). Surely Okawa can no longer claim a believer base of over 10 million any more! to put that in to context, Komeito (who is supported by the Sokagakkai religeous group) won 11.6% of the hirei vote (8,054,047 votes). Needless to say, neither Okawa nor Dr. Nakamatsu were successful in being elected through the hirei system.

    Even their their more famous candidates weren’t able to bring in the swinging voters:
    Kazuya Daimon in Tokyo 7 (songwriter for Hikaru Genji and Hiromi Go) won a miserly 2,401 votes out of 278,933. Nagazuma (a young, charismatic candidate from the DPJ won the seat safely)
    Masashi Ishikawa in Kanagawa 14 (head of the New York branch) wasn’t much better with 2,713 votes out of 290,123. This seat was also won by the DPJ candidate, Motomura, by a landslide. I suppose Ishikawa can be happy that he wasn’t the worst preforming candidate in this seat. There was a guy called Takanori Yoshida (who based his campaign on the fact that whales ate too many fish and so should be commercially killed) only scraped together 1,737 votes.

  8. 3 major institutions that always manipulate and exploits the human race are religions, politics and money.These 3 major institutions are working together to bring down mankind.It is a sophisticated form of mind control that train you to think that you can’t live without it. Pay attention to the men behind religion such as the clergyman, pope, imam and rabbi, the men behind politics such as politicians, head of states like King,Emperor, President, Prime minister, Dictator and maximum leader without official titles, men behind the money such as businessmen,owner of company, chairman, president, CEO or director of corporations. What have they done for you? Nothing. More over, All of these three are working against you. You couldn’t even afford to pay your health care because of money problem. People died in war because of political and religious problem. Worse, we are so divided and we couldn’t even unite because of our these 3 tragedies of humanity. Respect is not for who you are but for your religious, political and money status. No body is going to be safe because of this. Human race can’t find true happiness through religions, politics and money. Human race will be truly happy when there is no religions, no politics and no money. Religions and politics will control your mind and lead you to exploitations and destruction. Money will also control your mind and exploits you, leads you to corruption, false happiness called rich and ends up in poverty. Money is root of all evil and money can’t buy you happiness. By the way capitalism sucks and religions and politics are even worst.

  9. The political teren in Japan is quite interesting and requires a detailed record for a decisve follow up. However I will appreciate it most if am posted on details concerning the 2010/2011 B.E.A of japan scholarship with Nigeria, taking off by April 2011.

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