TOKYO, May 8 -- Japan's Supreme Court Wednesday declared invalid the marriage by a woman who took her vows at a mass-wedding ceremony organized by the Unification Church in South Korea. The ruling against the marriage was the first time such vows have been voided in Japan, said a lawyer representing the woman whose name was not released.
The woman asked the court to annul the marriage after she left the religious group before she and her husband in the arranged marriage started living together. The 34-year-old woman and her 32-year-old groom were among 6,516 couples who tied the knot during a Unification Church wedding in October 1988. The church was founded in Seoul in 1954 by the Rev. Moon Sun Myung and the its adherents are sometimes referred to as Moonies. Attorneys representing the woman said the Supreme Court upheld lower court decisions, rejecting an appeal by the groom. The couple registered the marriage with local authorities in Naha on Japan's southern island of Okinawa, the man's hometown. The woman, however, left the religious group before she started living with the man and filed a lawsuit at a local court to nullify the marriage. The district court ruled in favor of the woman in 1993, saying the marriage registration did not reflect the resolute will of the couple. A high court also upheld the lower court's decision last October.