Japanese Prime Minister pledges ruling party will cut ties with sects

The Japanese prime minister apologized and pledged that the ruling party would cut ties with the Unification Church, the sect suspected of being involved in Mr. Abe’s assassination.

“As Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), I sincerely apologize for causing public skepticism and concern with media reports about the party’s deep ties to the sect,” he said. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said today, referring to the Unification Church, the sect believed to be involved in the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Mr. Kishida added that while religious groups must abide by the law, Japanese politicians are also required to be careful with groups that “have social problems”.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a press conference in Tokyo today.  Photo: AP.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a press conference in Tokyo today. Image: AP.

Japan’s prime minister confirmed that members of his cabinet and other key positions have agreed to review past links with the Unification Church and cut ties with it. .

Prime Minister Kishida has instructed LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi to investigate the entire party into any member’s relationship with the Unification Church.

The Unification Church was founded in 1954, reaching out globally and owning a large business empire. The sect has faced controversy in the US, where its founder Sun Myung Moon was convicted of tax evasion and sentenced to prison.

In Japan, the Unification Church has been registered as a religion since 1964 and has faced numerous lawsuits from the families of followers who have donated large sums of money to the sect. They have also been criticized for selling bibles and other religious items at exorbitant prices.

This sect became the focus of public attention after the 41-year-old suspect Tetsuya Yamagami used a homemade gun to shoot former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture on July 8. Mr. Abe later died at the hospital from his injuries.

Yamagami told police that he assassinated Mr. Abe because he believed the former prime minister had links to the Unification Church. The suspect said his mother was a member of the Unification Church and the family was bankrupt because of the sect.

The Unification Church confirmed that the suspect’s mother was a member and that former prime minister Abe sent a video message to an event hosted by the sect-related organization. However, they insist the organization has no direct connection to Mr Abe, stressing he is “not a member or advisor” of the sect.

Ngoc Anh (Theo AP)

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