VICE reports that the political head of a Japanese religious cult is among the speaker lineup at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this year.
According to the report, the cult “promotes nationalism, xenophobia and the belief that its leader is the reincarnation of an alien from Venus who created life on earth millions of years ago.”
On Friday afternoon at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, Hiroaki “Jay” Aeba, a prominent Japanese conservative, will address CPAC about the threat China poses to the U.S., taking a prime spot in the lineup just after Donald Trump Jr.
Aeba is no stranger to CPAC. In fact, 2021 marks the tenth anniversary of his first visit to the Republican lovefest.
His speaker bio on the CPAC website notes that Aeba is the chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union (JCU), a right-wing political organization, and that he helped found CPAC Japan, which has been running for the last four years in Tokyo.
However, his bio does not include “the central role Aeba plays in a Japanese cult called Happy Science, whose leader believes he is the Messiah and sells ‘miracle cures’ for COVID-19,” VICE reported.
“Happy Science is a Japanese cult run by a man who claims to be the incarnation of multiple Gods while pretending to channel the psychic spirits of anyone from Quetzalcoatl to Bashar al-Assad to Natalie Portman,” Sarah Hightower, a researcher and expert on Japanese cults, told VICE News.
While he has been a prominent member of the Happy Science cult from the beginning, Aeba has worked over the past decade on building close ties with prominent U.S. conservative figures and creating Japan’s Happiness Realization Party (HRP), the cult’s political wing that focuses on ultranationalism and increasing Japan’s population by making child-rearing easier for Japanese women.
By giving Aeba a platform, CPAC and the Republican Party is showing once again that it is willing to accept and embrace dangerous fringe movements, like QAnon and the Falun Gong-backed Epoch Times, a pro-Trump newspaper that spread disinformation and has become a firm favorite in MAGA world.
VICE reported that Happy Science was founded in October 1986 by former Wall Street trader Ryuho Okawa, “who claims to be the reincarnated form of Buddha, who himself was the reincarnated form of El Cantare, a god from Venus who created life on earth millions of years ago.”
In 1991, Japan officially recognized Happy Science as a religious group, after which it “quickly gained a huge following, and made Okawa a very rich man.” According to the report, “One estimate from 1991 put the group’s annual revenues at around $45 million.”
“Okawa’s never been particularly shy about his ambitions or his nationalist beliefs,” Hightower said. ” “He wants to dominate. He wants to be a major player on the world political stage. So it really only makes sense to start making these inroads and back in Japan, Okawa can point to anything HRP does in America as proof of some sort of political legitimacy.”
“CPAC is at the forefront of a reactionary global network — demonstrated once again by Jay Aeba being invited to speak,” Joe Mulhall, a senior researcher with U.K.-based advocacy group Hope Not Hate, told VICE News. “That CPAC continues to associate with Jay Aeba demonstrates clearly what values they are trying to promote, and ally with, around the world.”
Image credit: Screengrab / 知行合一チャンネル / YouTube