Abe's Assassination Draws Light To Unification Church

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Assassination Draws Light To Controversial Unification Church

by Swarajya Staff - Tuesday, July 12, 2022 05:35 PM IST
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Assassination Draws Light To Controversial Unification Church The Japanese embassy in Thailand.
  • The Unification Church's branch in Japan has confirmed that the assassin's mother was a member.

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated by a 41-year-old with grievances over his mother’s religious donations to the controversial Unification Church.

The Unification Church's branch in Japan has confirmed that the assassin's mother was a member.

Multiple media reports in Japan have stated that the Abe's assassin has linked his action to his mother's membership of the Unification Church. The assassin's mother became a member of the church in 1998, stopped attending from 2009 to 2017 and started participating again a few years back.

She began to regularly attend the church's meeting six month back, according to the church's president, Tomihiro Tanaka.

The assassin believed that his mother went bankrupt due to the donations she was committing to the Unification Church.

Tanaka says that the church got to know about the financial difficulties of the assassin's mother only after talking to people close to her.

The church has been making millions of dollars every year in Japan, selling products like rosaries, Buddha figurines and ginseng juice that purportedly lead wandering spirits to heaven, as per a report by the South China Morning Post.

It is alleged that the church urges followers to make special donations for the dead, even if it means taking out loans. The church, however, strongly denies such allegations.

The church was founded in South Korea in 1954 by Sun-myung Moon. Moon was a strident anti-communist and a self declared messiah. The church started evangelisation in Japan, when missionary Choi Sang-ik smuggled himself into Japan in 1959.

The church urges people to "transcend race and religion, rebuild the family as the vessel of true lasting love”.

Abe sent a video message in September last year to an international event held by church affiliates and expressed support for its global peace movement. Former US president Donald Trump too sent a similar message.

Tetsuya Yamagami, the assassin, developed a perception that Abe supported the church.

After Abe's assassination, Tanaka, president of the Japanese branch of the church, clarified that Abe was not a member.

According to the Christian newspaper NoCut News quoted in the SCMP report, Abe's grandfather and former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi visited the church in 1970. At the same time, he started building ties with the International Federation for Victory Over Communism, a group created in 1968 at Moon's behest.

Moon used anti-communism as a glue to build up close ties with the then authoritarian rulers of South Korea and Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party politicians.

The church’s affiliates include newspapers in South Korea, Japan and the United States, including the conservative Washington Times, which Moon founded in 1982.

Moon died in 2012 and a severe family feud started between Moon’s wife Han Hak-ja and her sons.

The church's influence has been waning since 2012.

The church gained traction in Japanese society due to a preexisting culture amicable to ancestor worship, reports say.

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