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Honohana Sampogyo

Founder Sentenced to 12 Years
Hogen Fukanaga, 60, founder of Honohana Sampogyo, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for taking more than $1 million from followers in “fees for training” that he promised would cure their diseases. He said he could read their past and future by examining the soles of their feet. His defense argued that ruling on the legitimacy of his teachings would infringe on the group’s constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion. Thirteen followers have also been convicted of fraud in the case.[csr 4.3 2005]

Fukanaga, who claims to be the world’s final savior, following Jesus Christ and Buddha, began preaching in 1980. Honohana, recognized as a religion by the Shizuoka Prefecture government in 1987, once claimed 30,000 members and is estimated to have collected hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from followers. It declared bankruptcy in 2001 following a raid on its facilities and the arrest of Fukanaga in 2000. (Japan Times, Internet, 7/16/05) [csr 4.3 2005]