HOPE not hate can reveal links between the Japanese right-wing religious “cult” called "Happy Science" and the expansion of CPAC in the country

Recently HOPE not hate wrote about how the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), organised by American Conservative Union (ACU), had expanded internationally with conferences in Japan, Korea, Brazil and Ireland. Last week we explored the likelihood of CPAC expanding further, this time into Hungary. 

Anyone who has looked at CPAC events in the US over the years knows they are have regularly been attended by far-right figures. Now HOPE not hate can reveal that the recent CPAC conference in Tokyo, Japan, was attended by representatives from ‘Happy Science’, a far-right religious organisation that has been described by some as a ‘cult’.

August this year saw the start of the third annual CPAC conference in Tokyo, co-organised by the ACU and Japanese Conservative Union (JCU). The event featured attendees from the US, including the ACU’s Matt Schlapp and Dan Schneider, FOX News’ Sara Carter and Gordon Chang, Republican congressman Paul Gosar and congressman Bruce Westerman, and current US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.

Now undercover evidence from Japan’s Anti-Racism Information Center (ARIC), seen by HOPE not hate, reveals that members of ‘Happy Science’ (HS) were also in attendance at the event. ARIC’s Ryang Yong Song told HOPE not hate that their undercover investigator saw a group of attendees from Happy Science, some wearing HS necklaces at the event.

This should perhaps come as no great surprise as a 2017 article by web magazine, The Liberty Web (part of the Happy Science Group), explains how they asked Steve Bannon, a speaker at J-CPAC that year, a question and called for a US-Japan partnership against China.

It seems then that connections between CPAC and the Happy Science Group are nothing new. In fact, an even older article in The Atlantic places their attendance this year in a wider context and raise some very interesting question.

According to the article, at CPAC 2012, held at the Marriott hotel in Washington D.C., there was “a rather conspicuous delegation of three neatly groomed Asian gentlemen in dark suits”. One was Yuya Watase, the founder of the Tokyo Tea Party, but the other two were Jikido ‘Jay’ Aeba, then one of the leaders of the Happy Realization Party (HRP), the political wing of HS, and another party official called Yuki Oikawa. According to The Atlantic article they were “on a mission to export American-style conservatism—the gospel of small government, low taxes, and free enterprise—to the Land of the Rising Sun.”

Jikido ‘Jay’ Aeba at CPAC in 2017

Even more interesting is the fact that, according to group Japan-U.S. Feminist Network for Decolonization (FeND), Aeba resigned from the board of Happy Science in 2015 and founded the Japanese Conservative Union (JCU). This is the organisation that now co-organises J-CPAC alongside the ACU. Aeba’s profile on the JCU website makes no mention of his past in HRP, though he does claim to have served as an advisor to the Republican National Committee, to have published a book called The Trump Revolution, and was the editorial supervisor to the Japanese translation of Clinton Cash by Breitbart Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer in 2016.

In addition, an article by the Center for Responsive Politics, a US thinktank that tracks the effect of money and lobbying on politics, revealed that one of the “presenting sponsors” who spent $125,000 at this years CPAC event in Washington was a Japanese cryptocurrency start-up called Liberty. The co-founder of Liberty is none other than Jay Aeba.  

As such it seems that the links between CPAC, Japan and Happy Science go much deeper and further back than first thought, and begs the question whether key Happy Science figures have been central to bringing CPAC to Japan.

But who are Happy Science?

The Happy Science Group

The Happy Science Group, of which the religious movement is one part alongside the Happiness Realization Party, claims to have over 12 million members as well as temples and offices in over 90 countries.

HS has been described as a cult, and its CEO and founder Ryuho Okawa claims to be a reincarnation of the Buddha that receive guidance from 500 spirits who he can channel including, according to The Age, “Shakespeare, Socrates, Thomas Edison, Confucius, Walt Disney, Margaret Thatcher and, despite his not yet having entered the spiritual plane, US President Barack Obama.” This perhaps explains why its branch in London recently hosted a séance in order to hear Margaret Thatcher’s thoughts on Brexit.

However, some of the groups beliefs are much more pernicious. The party has expressed anti-Korean and anti-Chinese views and has engaged in historical denial of the Imperial Japanese military’s system of colonial sex slavery. It has also promoted extreme homophobia. Its web magazine, The Liberty Web (part of the Happy Science Group) published an article in January of this year following the release of the Freddie Mercury biopic in late 2018. According to the site, the singer’s “spirit” appeared to Okawa to ask ““Did I suffer from AIDS because God was punishing me for being gay?”. The apparition was informed by Okawa that “Gay is evil. Men have to fulfil men’s vocations, and women women’s.” Okawa claimed to have been passing on the message from Zoroaster, the central figure in the Zoroastrian faith in which Mercury was raised, after he had “summoned” Zoroaster to get an answer.

The article goes on to add some definitively corporeal views, noting that “LGBT rights must be set within the limits of happiness: the happiness of the country and of the world. For example, if same-sex marriages continue to increase and fewer people have children, that country will stagnate and the future of humanity could be endangered.”

These extreme and sometimes downright peculiar beliefs make Happy Science a possible embarrassment for CPAC organisers in the US, so one has to ask whether they are unaware, or have chosen to ignore them?