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Seibo No Mikuni, a Catholic Apocalyptic Splinter Movement from Japan

by PierLuigi Zoccatelli. A paper presented at CESNUR’s 14th international conference, Riga, Latvia, August 29-31, 2000. Preliminary version. Please do not reproduce without the consent of the author.

Seibo No Mikuni was established in Japan on February 11, 1970 by Yukio Nemoto (1925-1988). It is one of many "sedevacantist" fringe Catholic groups (i.e. groups claiming that the Holy See is "vacant" and John Paul II is not a "valid" Pope), with a special focus on abortion as an apocalyptic omen. (Concern for aborted fetuses is widespread in Japanese religiosity even outside the Christian fold). Not much is known of the founder’s biography. He converted to Roman Catholicism at age 25, joined the Militia of Mary the Immaculate in 1965, left the Roman Catholic Church after Vatican II and proceeded to establish Seibo no Mikuni under the adopted name Joseph of Jesus and Mary Yukio Nemoto. The movement, he claimed, had however really been founded by the Virgin Mary (who is called "the Supreme Commander of Seibo No Mikuni"), and "Victory of the Blessed Virgin Mary" is its motto.

The aim of Seibo No Mikuni -- as explained in the official magazine of the movement, "The Morning Star" -- is to seek the glory of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary and the salvation of mankind, to defend true Catholicism, to propagate the orthodox doctrine, to promote rituals of adoration, to sanctify the believers and to bring them up, to build the Ark of Salvation in the last days, and to work for the victory of Mary Immaculate.

The activities of Seibo No Mikuni are summarized in the following three parts:

  1. The Morning Star (Teaching). Seibo No Mikuni claims to defend the true Catholic doctrine and to preach an apocalyptic truth to the whole world by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is Immaculate and is the true Morning Star;
  2. St. Mary Church (Sanctification). Seibo No Mikuni offers the true adoration in spirit and truth by the grace of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Co-Redemptrix of the Redeemer Jesus. At the present time, considered as being the last days, the Rosary is the special refuge for the members of Seibo No Mikuni;
  3. Holy Mother’s Treasury (Ruling). Seibo No Mikuni strives for the salvation of its members and humankind in general, once again through the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mediatrix of all graces.

Members of Seibo no Mikuni should meet five conditions in order to be received into the movement:

  1. They should believe the doctrine of the three privileges of the Virgin Mary: the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption into Heaven of Mary (already proclaimed as dogmas by the Roman Catholic Church), and her Universal Mediation. This last dogma has been proclaimed on January 6, 1981 by Nemoto; although the doctrine has a number of followers within the Church of Rome, it has also its critics there and is not regarded as official. Nemoto instructed followers that a feast of the Mediatrix of All Graces be included in the liturgical calendar on the second Sunday of May every year (in Catholic liturgical terms the feast is classified by Seibo No Mikuni as a double feast of first class, with octave);
  2. Members should recognize Seibo No Mikuni as the only true Catholic Church in the latter days;
  3. Members should recognize that the present Church of Rome has been corrupted rapidly since Vatican II and has converted itself into the "great harlot" of Revelation 17:1;
  4. Members should proclaim that the Roman Popes since John XXIII and Paul VI (including John Paul II) are both the Antichrist and the Beast of Revelation 13:11;
  5. For the reasons mentioned above, members of Seibo No Mikuni should openly come out of Babylon, i.e. of the Church of Rome.

Once a new member has left the Roman Catholic Church, he should no longer attend the latter Church’s Mass (which is considered invalid). Since no priests are normally available to Seibo No Mikuni (nor the movement thinks it has the authority to ordain new priests), each member must instead pray the Rosary as a substitute for the Mass, and performs an act of spiritual communion before a personal home altar. If he commits a mortal sin, a perfect contrition will earn him forgiveness (though he cannot receive the sacrament of confession).

Five articles summarize the position of Seibo No Mikuni on the present situation of the Catholic Church:

  1. The Popes, since John XXIII and Paul VI, are the Antichrist, the Beast, and they have done all kind of wicked deceptions, have destroyed or perverted all the orthodox teachings, and have misled the Catholic Church and the whole world;
  2. The present Catholic Church has fallen from grace rapidly since Vatican II, a Council which had been gathered by the unclean spirits and has changed the Church into Babylon the Great, the great harlot;
  3. The present Church has abandoned and perverted the two conditions of salvation (the Cross of the Lord Christ and the cult of the Virgin Mary), and has insisted on earthly salvation and peace. Therefore there is no salvation in her;
  4. According to the word of the Lord, the Virgin Mary and her offspring (the true believers) have gone out of the present Church, have fled into the wilderness, and have built Seibo No Mikuni, in order to defend true Catholicism;
  5. Today is the time of the last days (the Apocalyptic times), the time of the Virgin Mary, and the time when the promise of what Catholics regard as the "protogospel" in the Book of Genesis (i.e. the vision of a woman, identified with Mary, who will crash the head of the serpent) is fulfilled. The woman (the Virgin Mary) and her offspring overcome the Beast.

Among the doctrines of Seibo No Mikuni which refers to the Virgin Mary, a special place is given to "a" third secret of Fatima (as usually in many "sedevacantist" and fringe Catholic groups, different from the official third part of the secret of Fatima, revealed by the Holy See in 2000). This text states: "(…) Particularly, Satan will confuse the hearts and minds of scientists. (…) The punishment will be severer than at the time of the Deluge. The great and the powerful as well as the lowly and the weak will perish. Cardinal will go against Cardinal, Bishop will go against Bishop. The devil will enter into among them and will cause opposition. Also in Rome there will be great changes. (…) By this calamity, all will be destroyed, and countless people will perish. (…) I continue to cry to all the true Christians, apostles of the last days". The above "third secret of Fatima" must be read in a proper way, which for Seibo No Mikuni means according to the Book of Revelation.

The Book of Revelation plays an important part in Nemoto’s theology, and he authored a four-volume commentary of it. This "Explanation of the Apocalypse of St. John" emphasizes the messianic role of Seibo No Mikuni in the latter days. The movement as a collective body and Nemoto are the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3. This kind of prophetic speculation, coupled with prophecies about the imminent end of the world and vitriolic attacks against the Roman hierarchy, are the main features of a very small movement. Seibo No Mikuni regards technically as "members" of its organization only the ten nuns who are part of a religious order led by Sister Mary Immaculate (Nemoto’s successor). Nemoto’s daughter, Sister Mary of the Assumption, is a member but has no special leadership role.

The sisters live in Fukushima, Northern Japan; although there is a circle of lay followers in Japan and other countries, the movement targets specially Catholic priests. There are no priests who fully follow Nemoto’s revelations at present, except one living in faraway Guatemala. Seibo No Mikuni, however, has a much larger impact through its literature, sent to literally thousands of priests in different languages. In Italy, for instance, literature has been sent to all Italian priests. Although many of them do not pay attention to it, receiving it repeatedly has made the name of Seibo No Mikuni much more well-known in Italy than the small size of the group would warrant. A nun, Nobuko Hojo, visits Italy periodically. A certain number of priests, in Italy and elsewhere, enter into some sort of correspondence with the Fukushima sisters. Although very few are prepared to share Nemoto’s apocalyptic claims, Seibo No Mikumi literature enjoys a certain fame in archconservative Catholic circles and is part of a larger body of texts on the latter day crisis of the Catholic church whose influence should not be underestimated.

Seibo No Mikuni publishes in English a magazine "The Morning Star" (only two issues have been published, in 1989 and 1992) and the anti-abortion newsletter "Abortion in the World", and flyers in several languages, including English and Italian. Nemoto’s magnum opus "Explanation of the Apocalypse of St. John", in four volumes, is available in Japanese only, but English, French, Portuguese, and Italian translations are being prepared by the nuns.


PierLuigi Zoccatelli

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