The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun
LDP worrying about involvement with former Unification Church
The Liberal Democratic Party is concerned with successive revelations about the relationship between LDP lawmakers and the religious group widely known as the Uni cation Church, which is in the spotlight following the shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
e LDP is worried that public criticism of its relationship with the religious group, which is now o cially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Uni cation, could deliver a blow to the government and the LDP.
“I want to make it clear that from now on I will sever all ties [with the Uni cation Church], including those who are a liated with the church,” former Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Hakubun Shimomura told reporters at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, following a general meeting of the Abe faction on Aug. 4.
A political party branch that he represented in 2016 received a donation of ¥60,000 from an organization a liated with the Uni cation Church.
e Cultural A airs Agency gave approval in 2015 for the Uni cation Church to change its name.
However, opposition parties and others have argued that the name change made it harder to view the religious group’s business practices, such as selling goods or services claiming supernatural bene ts to the purchaser.
Shimomura, who served as education minister from 2012-2015, ruled out any involvement in giving the green light to the name change. “In my position as minister, I did not give any political instructions,” he said, adding, “Now I feel responsible for it.”
Many other lawmakers belonging to the Abe faction also had ties to the Uni
cation Church, including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda.
e faction’s acting chairman, Ryu Shionoya, met with Prime Minister
Fumio Kishida at the Prime Minister’s O ce a er the general meeting and said he was leaving it up to individual lawmakers to explain their relationship with the group.
e relationship between lawmakers and the Uni cation Church and related organizations ranged from receiving physical support for election campaigns to accepting donations.
“Former Prime Ministers Nobusuke Kishi and Takeo Fukuda supported the International Federation for Victory over Communism, which was established in 1968 by the Uni cation Church under the anti-communist slogan,” a source close to the LDP said. “It is a natural development that many members of the Abe faction, which follows in the footsteps of the former prime ministers, are involved [with the Uni cation Church.]”
OPPOSITION PARTIES ALSO INVOLVED
e Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is stepping up its pursuit of the LDP regarding its involvement with the Uni cation Church.
At a press conference on Aug. 4, CDPJ Policy Research Council Chairman Junya Ogawa criticized the LDP, saying, “While the LDP doesn’t investigate, doubts within the general public and society will continue to grow.”
According to a CDPJ internal party survey, eight Diet members, including former Education Minister Masaharu Nakagawa, sent congratulatory telegrams to a meeting of an organization a liated with the church.
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) also announced that 13 of its members, including its co-leader Nobuyuki Baba and Secretary General Fumitake Fujita, had attended an event hosted by organizations a liated with the church.
Both parties stated that no members received donations or election campaign support, according to self-reported information from their members.
CDPJ leader Kenta Izumi stressed that it is clear that the Uni cation Church is not a group that supports the party. (Aug. 9)