The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun
Unification Church members’ kin say group cause of family suffering
Two people described to e Yomiuri Shimbun how they su ered a er family members became followers of a religious group known as the Uni cation Church, against which Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspect in the shooting death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is said to have harbored a grudge.
Yamagami, 41, was quoted by Nara prefectural police as saying that a particular video convinced him to switch the target of his revenge from the religious group to Abe.
“e news of the attack made my heart ache,” said a company employee in her 50s in the Kanto region. She felt that way because she has had a similar grudge against the Uni cation Church, which is now o cially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Uni cation.
She said she found out that her mother had become a follower of the religious group a er her elder brother died in a tra c accident. It was when she was in her 20s.
A er she married and le her parents’ home, she learned that her mother had borrowed ¥2 million from a relative to donate to the Uni cation Church and did not repay the money.
ere was other nancial trouble as well, including her mother donating without permission about ¥20 million of another relative’s inheritance to the group.
e woman tried to persuade her mother to leave the group, but she became resentful and refused to talk. When the woman tried to talk her mother into leaving the group at the daughter’s home, the mother shouted out the window, “I’ve been kidnapped!” e woman said that her mother seemed not to trust her and had fallen under the mind control of the group.
e woman’s father and younger sister, who lived with her mother, gave up on e orts to persuade her to leave the group. Having become emotionally exhausted, the woman cut o communication with her mother about ve years ago.
“What Yamagami did is utterly unforgivable, but I similarly feel morti ed by experiencing the disintegration of my family. I also feel powerless for having been unable to confront the religious group,” she said.
According to the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, it is di cult for followers to leave the religious group as they are bound by a sense of fear. e followers are asked for donations as they “have to work hard” to rescue their deceased parents, children or others who are said to be su ering in the spiritual world. ey are also led to believe that not only they but also their families “will go to hell if they leave the group.”
A 54-year-old man from eastern Japan found out that his mother had joined the group when he was a college student and made her leave them eight years later.
She joined the group a er she became burdened with problems as she was scolded by one of her relatives over the care of the man’s grandfather. Persuaded by her, his father also joined the group.
ey are said to have had a wedding in the group’s “blessed marriage” system to be recognized as a married couple by the religious group. e man, who had been living away from his parents’ home, returned to them and discussed the matter with them several times. But his parents did not agree to leave the group.
A er his father died, the man took time o from work to focus on making his mother leave the group. He rented an apartment and lived with his mother and his younger sister for about a month and a half. Having invited a pastor who was helping people leave the religious group, the man asked him to explain to his mother the problems with the group’s teachings over and over again.
e mother is said to have eventually agreed to leave the group. (Aug. 2)