In a first-ever ruling on religious group tactics to canvass offerings, the Supreme Court on Sept. 18 upheld a high court decision that ordered a religious organization to pay 37.6 million yen in damages to two Fukuoka women who were coerced to donate their assets.

The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, generally known as the Unification Church, had appealed to the Supreme Court soon after the Fukuoka High Court ruled against the church in February 1996. After the Supreme Court rejected the group’s appeal Sept. 18, presiding Justice Masao Fujii said in a judicial opinion that the high court decision, which found the church’s canvassing tactics illegal, has enough reason to be justified.

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