Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi, 日本会議) is a powerful conservative organization described by New York Times as “largest nationalist organization, which rejects postwar pacifism, embraces the imperial system and defends Japan’s past wars in Asia.” In addition, Japan Conference opposes policies aimed at promoting gender equality as the organization views them as a threat against traditional Japanese families. Many leaders of Japan Conference, including Shiro Takahashi, Hideaki Kase, and Yoshiko Sakurai are also active in comfort women denial.
Japan Conference has an affiliated parliamentary caucus within the parliament (Nippon Kaigi Kokkai Giin Kondan Kai, 日本会議国会議員懇談会) with hundreds of members, mostly from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. In 2014, 15 out of 19 members of the administration of Shinzo Abe were members of the Japan Conference caucus including Deputy Prime Minister (and former Prime Minister) Taro Aso (麻生太郎), Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication Sanae Takaichi (高市早苗), and Cabinet Minister Yoshihide Suga (菅義偉) in addition to Abe himself.
Japan Education Rebirth Institute (Nippon Kyoiku Saisei Kiko, 日本教育再生機構) is a right-wing Japanese group promoting nationalistic educational reforms, including the erasure of the comfort women system and other atrocities committed by the Japanese military from history textbooks. It was founded by Shuji Yagi (八木秀次) after he and others left the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform due to an internal division. Board members include Shiro Takahashi and others who are affiliated with the powerful Japan Conference.
Japan Family Value Society (FAVS, 家族の絆を守る会) is a conservative Japanese group dedicated to preserving “traditional Japanese families” through opposition to legislations aimed at improving the status of women such as anti-discrimination policies and legalized abortion. The organization also calls on Japan to withdraw from the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
At the founding in 2007, FAVS was part of the network of Japan Conference with Japan Conference’s Akiko Okamoto (岡本明子) as the Secretary General, although the organization appears to be less prominent under the leadership of Kiyoshi Hosoya today.
Under Okamoto, FAVS was one of the first Japanese right-wing groups to participate in the United Nations processes as an NGO along with “family values” and anti-abortion groups from around the world as a member of the World Congress of Families. More recently under Hosoya, FAVS focuses on comfort women denial at the United Nations level in collaboration with Global Alliance for Historical Truth, of which Hosoya is a board member, Alliance for Truth about Comfort Women, and Nadeshiko Action. It is unclear how much ties the organization maintains with the Japan Conference now.
Japan First Party (日本第一党) is a far-right political party founded in 2016 by Makoto Sakurai, the founder and former president of Zaitokukai. In addition to a host of far-right causes including the development of nuclear arsenal and hardline military stance toward neighbors China, South Korea, and North Korea, the party calls for the repeal of Kono Statement (1993), Japan-ROK Agreement (2015), and other reconciliatory positions on comfort women as well as severing diplomatic ties with South Korea.
Japan Forum for Strategic Studies (日本戦略研究フォーラム) is a Japanese conservative think tank founded in 1999 to promote “comprehensive research on national strategy encompassing politics, economy, military, and science and technology.” Board of directors of JFSS is composed of leading conservative figures in politics, businesses, and academy with close ties to Japan Conference.
In addition to Japanese conservative leaders like Taro Yayama (屋山太郎), JFSS boasts a number of American “special advisors” and research fellows including former U.S. Department of State officer Kevin Maher (who was forced to resign after accusing Okinawan movement against U.S. bases of extortion), director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for U.S.-Japan Studies and Cooperation James Auer, former U.S. Marine officer Grant Newsham (also Auer’s colleague at the USJC at Vanderbilt), and former U.S. Marine foreign policy officer in Okinawa Robert Eldridge (who was fired after leaking video recordings of anti-base activists). These American mouthpieces for Japan’s conservative movement frequently contribute their views in English media, for example Newsham publishing regular opinion pieces in Hong Kong/Thailand-based Asia Times.
JAPAN Forward is an English language news and opinion site operated by Sankei Shimbun through JAPAN Forward Association Inc. (一般社団法人ジャパンフォワード推進機構). It publishes articles translated from Sankei’s Japanese publications, including Sankei Shimbun and Seiron, including many on issues of history and national security.
Japan Forward solicits membership dues from its “supporters” which range from 10,000 yen (about US$100) to 1,000,000 yen (about US$10,000) annually.
Japan Institute for National Fundamentals (国家基本問題研究所) is a conservative think tank founded and led by Yoshiko Sakurai. The Institute has close ties to Japan Conference, and many of its board members, advisors, and fellows are members come from Japan Conference and/or textbook reform movement. Its priorities include a revision of the pacifist clauses of Japan’s constitution, continued use of nuclear power, and comfort women denial.
Affiliated individuals include, in addition to Sakurai:
- Tadae Takubo (田久保忠衛), Japan Conference
- Shintaro Ishihara (石原慎太郎), fmr Tokyo governor
- Takashi Ito (伊藤隆), Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform
- Taro Yayama (屋山太郎), Nippon Foundation, Society to Improve Textbooks
- Kazuo Ijiri (井尻千男), Japan Conference, Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform
- Shohei Umezawa (梅澤昇平)
- Masato Ushio (潮匡人), Japan Education Rebirth Institute
- Koichi Sugiyama (すぎやまこういち), Committee for Historical Facts, Society to Improve Textbooks
- Tsutomu Nishioka (西岡力)
- Akira Momochi (百地章), Japan Conference
- Yuzou Kabashima (椛島有三), Japan Conference
Japan Mahoroba Station (JMS, 日本まほろば支援局), also known as Japan Mahoroba Support Agency is an online group founded in 2014 by New York-based Kaoli Koyasu to foster “better understanding of Japanese society and culture” starting among Japanese people. It promotes nationalistic views on Japan’s history and culture, including comfort women denial.
Mahoroba Station has co-sponsored various right-wing and comfort women denier events in the U.S., including Texas Night in NYC (2015), Texas Night in NYC (2016), and the Nadeshiko Action panel at the UN Commission on the Status of Women NGO Parallel Events (2016).
Japan Policy Institute (日本政策研究センター) is a nationalist think tank founded by Tetsuo Ito, a board member of Japan Conference. It is described in Japanese media as a right-wing “brain” of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration. JPI’s focus areas include comfort women denial, history, and anti-feminism.