Groups‎ > ‎

Life Space

Apocalyptic Sects Proliferate in Japan
In response to a yearning for spiritual leadership, apocalyptic religions and sects are proliferating in Japan. This is because things that matter in this previously comfortable society seem to be disappearing — family, safety, community, aesthetics, and money, while the sense of alienation and desperation deepen. [csr 1.3 2002]

In response, some 2,000 “new religions” have sprung up in Japan, including groups such as Ho No Hana Sanpogyo, which urges the worship of feet, and Life Space, whose leader says that he doesn’t need to eat, bathe, or sleep because of superhuman powers. (He is now in prison for 15 years for murdering a follower and keeping the mummified body in a hotel room.)[csr 1.3 2002]

The essentially Buddhist and virulently nationalistic Nichiren Kenshokai, which claims almost 900,000 followers, has attracted many high school students who have quit school, workers who have left their jobs, and even members of Japan’s Self-Defense Force. The group’s meetings include emotional testimonials to the psychological and physical healing powers of the religion and its leader. Practitioners believe that their religion is destined to become the national religion. The leadership teaches that Japan, and the world, are headed for an apocalyptic natural disaster — within the next 20 years — and an invasion from China, when everyone will join Nichiren Kenshokai. (Tim Larimer, Time Magazine, Internet, 7/2/02) [csr 1.3 2002]

Life Space Guru Gets 15-year Sentence in Mummy Case / Japan
The Chiba District Court has found Koji Takahashi, 63, leader of the Life Space "self-enlightenment" group, guilty of killing Shinichi Kobayashi, 66. Takahashi was sentenced to 15 years in prison for murdering Kobayashi, whose mummified body was found at a hotel in Chiba Prefecture in 1999. [csr 1.1 2002]

According to the ruling, Takahashi ordered Kobayashi's son Kenji, 33, and other followers to take Kobayashi from a hospital in Hyogo Prefecture where he had been treated for a stroke, and move him to a hotel in Narita, where the group performed hand-tapping. The court found that Takahashi failed to allow Kobayashi to receive medical treatment. As a result, Kobayashi suffocated and died three days later.[csr 1.1 2002]

Even after the arrest and indictment of Takahashi and the others, about 100 of his supporters continue to publicize his beliefs on Web sites and in books, and many of them still reportedly regard him as a guru. While Kenji Kobayashi has vowed to quit Life Space after receiving the suspended sentence, the victim's eldest daughter continues to work with the group, according to people close to the cult. (Kyodo, Japan Times, 2/602, Internet) [csr 1.1 2002]