Japan: Kishida Orders Probe of Unification Church After Shinzo Abe Assassination (Sarajya)
Sarajya staff - Sarajya, 10/17/2022 --
The Unification Church came into limelight after the assassination of former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in July earlier this year revealed close ties between the organisation and country's lawmakers.
Abe was shot during an election rally and the suspected assassin said his mother was bankrupted by the church, which critics call a cult, and blamed Abe for promoting it.
Support for Kishida-led government has tumbled to its lowest level since he took office on growing anger about the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers not fully disclosing their ties to the church, Reuters reported.
Kishisa met Culture Minister Nagaoka Keiko on Monday morning, and instructed her to open the probe into the group under the Religious Corporations Act, reports NHK.
It will be the first time for the government to exercise the "right to ask questions".
The religious group is under scrutiny for alleged shady marketing practices and solicitation of large donations from members.
In a proposal issued on Monday, the Japanese government's advisory panel has proposed that dissolution of the church should be an option considered by the investigators.
Kishida had told the Parliament that he had no personal relationship with the church. Meanhwhile, the LDP said that it has no organisational links to the church.
In an interview on Friday, Kishida said that there's a need to consider a strict response.
The Unification Church was founded in South Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, an anti-communist and self-declared messiah.
The church started evangelisation in Japan, when missionary Choi Sang-ik smuggled himself into Japan in 1959.
It built ties with politicians to attract followers and gain legitimacy. Politicians gained access to church members for help with campaigns.
The church’s affiliates include newspapers in South Korea, Japan and the United States, including the conservative Washington Times, which Moon founded in 1982.