Japan to probe into Unification Church after Abe's assassination
The Unification Church has been tied to multiple accusations of cult behaviors and activities, including coercion for funds and other forms of aggression.
Japan has announced launching an investigation into the Unification Church, which authorities found a connection with the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In July, Abe took a bullet from his assassin, whose member is a Unification Church member “who held a grudge against it and believed Abe was a supporter.”
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This announcement raised questions, as well as suspicions, regarding relations between the Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church, which led to a decrease in support for Fumio Kishida, the incumbent prime minister.
On Monday, Kishida told parliament that “the government has taken seriously the fact that there are a large number of victims as well as poverty and broken families, and they haven't been provided with adequate relief.”
About 50% of LDP lawmakers are said to have some sort of connection to the Unification Church - which is now called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The group, founded in South Korea in 1951, has often been labeled as a cult.
The Unification Church has been repeatedly accused of forcing its followers to make financial transactions to the group, in addition to holding "mass weddings" and "spiritual sales." Followers have been forced into buying jars and other items for "exorbitant prices by the use of threats, including the citing of ‘ancestral karma’."
Keiko Nagaoka, an MP in charge of the portfolios of education, sports, science and technology, asserted her ministry's readiness to "begin the probe as soon as possible."
“An expert panel on the issue is expected to start considering the details of the investigation as early as Oct. 25,” she said.
A panel of experts at Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency asked the government “to exercise its power to investigate the organization.” The agency received many “complaints about the Unification Church purportedly demanding huge donations from its followers that push them to the point of financial ruin." Abe's murderer, Tetsuya Yamagami, made a claim as such.
Yamagami, 41, had confessed previously that his family “was financially ruined after his mother made huge donations to the church.”
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