The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Web of political ties to religious group emerges

- The Yomiuri Shimbun

Various ways in which politician­s have received election support from the religious group widely known as the Uni cation Church have come to light in the wake of the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Some politician­s are reviewing their ties to the group, which has engaged in activities that provoke concern in society, such as a “spiritual sales” method to cajole its followers into buying expensive items.

“I received various kinds of assistance from individual volunteers during election campaignin­g,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said at a press conference on July 29, explaining his relationsh­ip with the group, which is now o cially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Uni cation.

Kishi, Abe’s younger brother, said he had some volunteers linked to the group working for him to make phone calls to voters to ask for their support during the House of Representa­tives election campaign.

Kishi said he “thought at the time there was no problem,” but will “carefully examine whether that was the right thing to do.”

In 1968, Uni cation Church founder Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012) launched an anti-communist political organizati­on called the Internatio­nal Federation for Victory over Communism. Since that time, the church is said to have built relationsh­ips with conservati­ve politician­s, mainly from the LDP, including former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, the grandfathe­r of Abe and Nobuo Kishi.

ere are many LDP Diet members among the politician­s whose relationsh­ips with the church have recently come to light.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Shinsuke Suematsu said that people linked to the group had bought tickets for his political fund-raising parties in 2020 and 2021. e tickets cost a total of ¥40,000.

In 2016, a political party chapter headed by Hakubun Shimomura, former education minister, also received a ¥60,000 donation from an organizati­on a liated with the group.

Opposition parties are no exception. Democratic Party for the People leader Yuichiro Tamaki received donations totaling ¥30,000 in 2016 from a former president of an organizati­on a liated with the group. Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) head Ichiro Matsui attended a meeting of an organizati­on a liated with the group about 20 years ago.


Why have politician­s built ties with the group? Many in the political world say it is for election purposes.

Yoshiyuki Inoue, an LDP member of the House of Councillor­s, became a “supporting member” of the group shortly before o cial campaignin­g kicked o for the upper house election in July, in which he was reelected.

It was reported that he became a supporting member because his campaign pledges were in line with the group’s concepts. One of his secretarie­s told e Yomiuri Shimbun that Inoue did so in order to receive support in the election.

Many politician­s were also found to have sent congratula­tory messages for events linked to the group.

“ere are many organizati­ons whose actual status remains unclear, but if you do nothing when asked to attend an event, you’ll make them your enemies in the election. at’s why I used to send congratula­tory messages,” a former lower house member recalled, speaking to e Yomiuri Shimbun.

Local leaders have also received support from the group. Toyama Gov. Hachiro Nitta admitted that he had received support from the group in the 2020 gubernator­ial election in which he was rst elected.

“ey took a grassroots approach in the election campaign, and I was grateful for that at the time,” said Nitta.

Meanwhile, the group is also believed to have taken advantage of its connection­s with politician­s.

A former follower of the group said that he was repeatedly shown pictures of Moon shaking hands with politician­s.

Since the 1980s, the group has used its spiritual sales method to cajole people into buying expensive goods, such as pots and personal seals, by telling them that they are cursed by their ancestors to fuel their anxiety.

e group’s mass weddings in which total strangers are made into couples have also emerged as a social problem.

Even sending a congratula­tory message to an event related to the group means “support” to it, and the group could use such gestures by politician­s for publicity, according to Hokkaido University Prof. Yoshihide Sakurai.

“For voters, the support groups of each politician are important informatio­n in choosing who to vote for, so politician­s should clearly indicate from which groups they receive support,” said the expert in the sociology of religion.


A senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party on July 29 said he had no idea what the problem was regarding the connection­s between LDP Diet members and the religious group widely known as the Uni cation Church.

“If the party conducted politics under the systematic and strong in uence of the group, it might be a problem. However, there is no such thing at all,” LDP General Council Chairperso­n Tatsuo Fukuda said at a press conference. “erefore, I’m not quite sure what the problem is.” (July 31)


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged fellow Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers to thoroughly explain any ties with the religious group widely known as the Uni cation Church. (Aug. 2)

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