TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Wednesday that his ruling party will cut ties with the Unification Church following the escalating scandal sparked by the assassination of former leader Shinzo Abe last month, urging the public to fight politics. apologized for causing a loss of trust in
Widespread close ties between members of Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party, many of whom belong to the Abe faction, and the South Korean-born church have surfaced since Abe was shot dead during his campaign speech in July. there is
A suspect, Tetsuya Yamaya, who was arrested at the scene, is said to have told police that he killed Prime Minister Abe because of his apparent ties to the church. In a letter seen by the Associated Press and a social media post believed to be his, Yamaya said he believed his mother’s large donations to the church had ruined his life. .
Some Japanese expressed understanding, even sympathy, as the details of the man’s life came to light and had a profound impact on the political parties that have ruled Japan virtually uninterrupted since World War II. .
Religious groups must abide by the law, but “politicians are strictly required to be careful about groups with social problems,” Kishida said. Members of his cabinet and other key officials reviewed past ties and agreed to sever ties with the church.
Kishida said, “As the president of the Liberal Democratic Party, I continue to expose through media reports that the Liberal Democratic Party and the church are becoming stronger, and I sincerely apologize for causing doubts and anxiety among the public.”
Founded in South Korea in 1954 and coming to Japan a decade later, the Unification Church has forged close ties with many conservative lawmakers over their common interest in opposing communism. Abe’s grandfather and former prime minister, Nobusuke Kishi, was a key figure in supporting the church’s political unit in Tokyo.
Since the 1980s, the church has faced accusations such as questionable solicitation, sale of religious items and donations, often leading to financial strain on believers’ families and, according to experts, the loss of believers’ children. It is affecting my mental health. This issue has led the government to decide to cut ties with the church.
Last year, Abe sent a video message to the International Peace Federation, an international organization affiliated with the church. Abe had praised Hak Ja Han Moon, the head of the church and co-founder of the coalition, for her efforts to promote traditional family values.
Experts and cult watchers also say the church has pushed important agendas such as the promotion of women and opposition to same-sex marriage to influence policy.
Kishida reshuffled his cabinet in early August and purged seven pastors associated with the church. Among them was Prime Minister Abe’s younger brother Nobuo Kishi, who admitted that church members had volunteered for his campaign. and related organizations.
At a press conference, Kishida said he had instructed Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi to thoroughly investigate the links between other party members and the church. Kishida said he is rushing to work on it, but the review spans decades, so it may take time.
Kishida apologized for the loss of public trust caused by the scandal and for his lack of explanation for hosting Prime Minister Abe’s state funeral.
The state funeral scheduled for September 27 divided public opinion. The only state funeral in postwar Japan was that of former Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida, who signed the Treaty of San Francisco, which restored relations with the Allies and ended the U.S. occupation of Japan.
The Kishida Cabinet last week allocated a budget of at least 250 million yen ($1.8 million) to invite about 6,000 guests to a funeral at Tokyo’s Budokan Arena.
Kishida argued that Prime Minister Abe, who has made Japan known worldwide as Japan’s longest serving prime minister since the end of World War II, deserves a state funeral. He said Japan must respond politely to “condolences” from foreign leaders and laws.
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