| Drink the Kool-Aid|
|But you WANT to stay!|
Happy Science (幸福の科学 Kōfuku-no-Kagaku) is a Japanese doomsday cult which is every bit as demented and psychotic as its name, and then some. The group operates a publishing company and several film/animation studios, funds a political wing that fields candidates in Japan, runs a system of unaccredited "universities" and holds events and enlightening seminars. It claims 11 million members worldwide in more than 50 countries, though a former member estimated membership at only around 30,000.
Formerly known as The Institute for Research in Human Happiness, Happy Science is one of a large number of new religions which have sprouted up in post-war Japan, generally regarded derisively and suspiciously by most Japanese, particularly after a 1995 terrorist attack perpetrated by a different cult in Tokyo's subway. The group's English-language reading materials seem benign enough, but the group's far-right political agenda is expressed much more openly and unambiguously in their Japanese-language media, which espouses extreme Japanese nationalism, social conservatism and xenophobia.
Happy Science was founded in the 1980s by day-trader-turned-Elron Ryuho Okawa,[note 1] (1956–) who evidently found starting a religion was a much better scam than shilling stocks. According to his official biography, "sometime after 2 pm on March 23rd, 1981," he
hallucinated attained "Great Enlightenment" and declared himself the reincarnation of God (the same one from more familiar religions), known for some reason as El Cantare. He has occupied himself since then chiefly with lectures, which have been transcribed into thousands of books; he claimed a Guinness World Record in 2011 for "the most books written in one year by an individual,” with 52 books published under his name in 2010 alone.[note 2]
His first wife, leader of the Happies' political party and self-proclaimed "reborn Aphrodite and bodhisattva of wisdom and intellect", was shunned for angering Lord El Cantare. They divorced, and his new wife is apparently a reincarnation of Gaia. He has at least one son, Hiroshi, a vocal critic of Happy Science who describes the group's teachings as "complete nonsense."
Happy Science teaches that El Cantare is actually an alien from Venus, who "received a will from the Primordial Buddha of the universe" and shacked up here on Earth after a big Venusian volcanic eruption in order to help create utopia. According to Happy Science, aliens visited the Middle East and Saudi Arabia frequently during antiquity, protected the Incas from annihilation at the hands of space villains, and kept Atlantis from falling into the ocean (for a while, I guess). The group endorses reincarnation, with a twist — it turns out souls form groups of six for some reason, which guide each other somehow through their temporal lives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Happy Science and its publications spread conspiracy theories about the origin of SARS-CoV-2, and offered a "spiritual vaccine" against the virus in return for a donation of hundreds of dollars.
So far, this is junior-varsity cult stuff — completely bananas, but relatively innocent. But it gets way wackier…
The Happies are active in politics in Japan, with a political party, the Happiness Realization Party, fielding candidaties in 99% of Japan's constituencies. As of April 2018, the party has 21 elected local councilors but no nationwide elected offices. Their platform is socially conservative, homophobic, pro-life, and anti-Chinese/anti-Korean; HRP publications express qualified support for Donald Trump, deny the Nanjing Massacre and the forced prostitution of civilians in occupied Korea during World War II, and support nuclear war against China and North Korea.
It should surprise no one at this point that the Happies have dived headfirst into far-right American politics, attending CPAC in 2012 and 2021 and organizing protests in support of QAnon and attempts to overturn United States elections.
- Unification Church - South Korean new religious right
- Falun Gong - Chinese new religious right
- real name Takashi Nakagawa
- "Claimed" and not "earned" because it's a real stretch to describe rambling for hours on end about aliens to a crowd of adoring followers as "writing."
- "Inside the Fringe Japanese Religion That Claims It Can Cure COVID-19". The New York Times. 16 April 2020. Retrieved 2021-05-24.
- "Fumika Shimizu Retires From Acting to Join Happy Science Religious Organization". Anime News Network. February 2017. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
- Trevor Astley, The Transformation of a Recent Japanese New Religion: Okawa Ryuho and Kofuku no Kagaku; Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 1995 22/3-4; http://nirc.nanzan-u.ac.jp/publications/jjrs/pdf/454.pdf
- Ryuho Okawa, Founder and CEO of the Happy Science Group
- McNeill, David (4 August 2009). "Party offers a third way: happiness". The Japan Times. Retrieved 6 August 2009.
- Shūkan Bunshun 3 February 2011, p. 140–43
- Shūkan Shinchō 3 February 2011, pp.136–37
- "幸福の科学が大川きょう子氏を永久追放 (Happy Science permanently expels Kyoko Okawa)" (in Japanese). The Liberty Web. IRH Press Co., Ltd.. February 22, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2012.
- Okawa, Ryuho Okawa & Shio (2014-11-21) (in English). In Love with the Sun: Spiritual Messages from Goddess Gaia. IRH Press Company Limited. ISBN 9781941779262.
- Happy Science Monthly (Happy Science USA) (296). November 2018.
- [|Okawa, Ryuho] (3 April 2020). Spiritual Reading of Novel Coronavirus Infection Originated in China. Tokyo: IRH Press USA. ISBN 1943869774.
- "The Happy Science Religious Movement Claims to Hold the Cure for COVID-19". Grape Japan (grapee.jp). 2020-05-21. Retrieved 2021-05-24.
- "NHKオンライン". Nhk.or.jp. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- "The Happiness Realization Party". En.hr-party.jp.
- "533". Pj News. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
- Andrew Joyce (2010-06-30). "Japanese Politics — The Unusual Suspects". The Wall Street Journal.
- "HRP Election Information". Retrieved 16 May 2018.
- The Liberty - Why Freddy Didn't Go To Heaven
- Is Birth Control Against the Will of God? Part 1: The Spiritual Truths about Pregnancies and Abortions
- "HRP Election Information". Retrieved 16 May 2018.
- Saint-Guily, Sylla (3 October 2012). "Happy Science Is the Laziest Cult Ever". Vice.
- Hattori, Go (2017-02-18). "I accidentally infiltrated the Happy Science cult while in junior high school". SoraNews24.
- "Can the Tea Party Take Japan?". The Atlantic. May 2, 2012.
- "A Japanese Cult That Believes Its Leader Is an Alien From Venus Is Speaking at CPAC". VICE. February 25, 2021,.
- "Trump’s ‘stop the steal’ message finds an international audience among conspiracy theorists and suspected cults". The Washington Post. 7 Jan 2021. Retrieved 05-24-2021.