Revelations since Shinzo Abe death shed light on Moonies’ influence

Details emerge showing Unification church’s political ties go further than Japan’s longest-serving prime minister -- Aug 01
Japan was still struggling to make sense of the violent death of Shinzo Abe when the man suspected of killing him gave police information that has sent shockwaves through the country’s political establishment.

Tetsuya Yamagami said he shot Abe because of the former primer minister’s links to the Unification church, also known as the Moonies, which he blamed for bankrupting his family. Yamagami’s mother, a longtime member of the church, reportedly gave it ¥100m [£618,000] in donations two decades ago, plunging their family into poverty.

Three weeks on from Abe’s death, details have emerged showing that the church’s ties to politicians extend well beyond Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, angering voters and raising questions about its influence on the ruling Liberal Democratic party’s policies on gender equality and sexual diversity.

Daily revelations that ruling and opposition party MPs have courted the church – from attending events to enlisting its members in campaigns – in return for mobilising voters have jolted the current prime minister, Fumio Kishida, and his party just weeks after their comfortable victory in upper house elections.

A poll published on Sunday by the Kyodo news agency showed that the approval rating for Kishida’s cabinet had dropped more than 12 percentage points to 51% in a matter of weeks. In addition, more than 53% of respondents said they opposed plans to hold a state funeral for Abe next month. ...continue reading

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