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NARA, Japan—The capturing of ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has had surprising political blowback. The killer attacked Abe not for his political opinions, however as a result of he wished to take revenge upon the South Korea-based Unification Church—generally labeled a ‘cult’—which he blamed for ruining his household and his life.

As an alternative of rallying behind Abe, the Japanese folks have adopted the killer’s needs and turned their consideration to long-standing however little mentioned hyperlinks between the ruling occasion and the Moonies.

Tetsuya Yamagami instructed police that he had initially deliberate to assassinate Hak Ja Han Moon, the pinnacle of the church, which is understood for holding mass weddings and backing right-wing politicians worldwide, however then determined to focus on Abe.

Earlier than capturing Abe, he wrote a letter to a contract journalist—obtained by The Day by day Beast—explaining that he murdered Abe with the intention to expose the deep hyperlinks between Japan’s ruling occasion, the Liberal Democratic Get together (LDP), and the Unification Church.

If that was his twisted purpose, he has succeeded past his wildest desires. The phrase, “In spite of everything, the Unification Church and the LDP are one and the identical” is now trending in Japan. The Mainichi newspaper ran an editorial on July 27, “The LDP should clear up its ties to the Unification Church.”

The paper wrote, “Why did the Japanese authorities permit the Unification Church to vary its identify?… It’s only pure that the Eating regimen and the press ought to attempt to make clear the precise scenario. Above all, the LDP ought to examine its lengthy historical past [with the group] clarify it to the general public, and liquidate the connection.”

Not simply in print and on the web however in day by day conversations, the Church and the LDP ties hold developing.

Manabu Yanagi, a retired police detective in Nikko Metropolis in Tochigi Prefecture, instructed The Day by day Beast, “The information is surprising. The ties between an anti-social group of fraudsters and the ruling occasion of Japan are disturbing. It must be made clear what precisely these ties have been.”

Shinzo Abe Was ‘Trump Earlier than Trump’—Besides He Pulled It Off

Whereas the Japanese media at first refused to print the identify of the cult, they’re now going all out—detailing the hyperlinks between the spiritual group, Abe, and his occasion in lurid element.

The backlash is so robust that many are actually brazenly calling for the cancellation of the State Funeral for Abe that’s deliberate this Autumn. “I oppose the state funeral for Shinzo Abe” was trending on Twitter for per week. A petition opposing taxpayer cash being spent on a lavish nationwide funeral for Abe has already gained 67,000 signatures. It factors out his connections to the cult as one motive disqualifying him for being honored.

Meet the Unification Church

The Unification Church, which now formally calls itself the Household Federation for World Peace and Unification, has an extended historical past of problematic and “anti-social” actions.

A Korean spiritual chief going underneath the identify Reverend Solar Myung Moon based the Unification Church in 1954. In line with Moon, Jesus despatched him to avoid wasting households and obtain world peace and battle godless communism. His followers have been generally known as “Moonies.” They turned identified for large group weddings and varied schemes of extorting massive monetary donations from their members. They have been additionally accused of utilizing brainwashing methods to recruit and hold adherents.

In Japan, they tapped into ancestor worship traditions and satisfied adherents to spend massive sums saving their family members from hell by shopping for costly “non secular” objects.

They strove to vary their picture within the late eighties and nineties, establishing entrance corporations, assume tanks, and associated organizations. They’ve additionally been media savvy. Moon based the conservative Washington Instances in Might of 1982, and the newspaper continues to be allegedly tied to the group even after the loss of life of Moon in 2012.

The Unification Church underneath varied names and guises has not solely cultivated robust ties with Japanese politicians, particularly the Liberal Democratic Get together, however has additionally managed to forge tight connections to the Republican Get together within the U.S., hyperlinks intensified underneath Donald Trump.

One of many sons of Reverend Moon, Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, created a splinter group, Rod of Iron Ministries, that worships with AR-15s and virulently helps Donald Trump. Sean Moon and congregation members weren’t solely allegedly current on the January sixth rebellion however are seemingly linked to some MAGA megastars. Steve Bannon referred to as into the group’s Freedom Competition final October.

Writing for The Day by day Beast, cult skilled and former unification church member, Steve Hassan, defined the faith as follows “Within the Moonies, we have been instructed that we have been heavenly troopers engaged in an important battle to take the world again from the forces of Devil, which included godless Communism and human-centered Western democracy. Our final objective was to interchange these godless human-centered types of authorities with a god-centered theocracy, underneath Moon’s management.”

Made In Korea, Bought In Japan

The Unification Church has been wildly profitable in Japan and 70 p.c or extra of its income is alleged to have been derived from Japanese nationals. Billions of yen have been wired from Japan to the church over the past decade, in accordance with an Higher Home parliamentarian.

The watchdog group, The Nationwide Community of Attorneys Towards Non secular Gross sales has been monitoring the Unification Church for the reason that late Eighties. It helps victims of the Church and cults. They claimed in a July 12 press convention that the confirmed monetary struggling related to the group as much as 2021 exceeded 123.7 billion yen ($899.2 million). The quantity represents solely a fraction of the entire, they are saying. The Community representatives additionally famous that between 2005 and 2010, the Japanese police dealt with 13 felony circumstances of promoting items in reference to the solicitation of donations, involving the church, and that greater than thirty Unification Church members have been arrested and detained. Quite a few lawsuits towards the Church resulted in damages being paid to victims of predatory practices.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Couples from around the world participate in a mass wedding ceremony at the CheongShim Peace World Center in Gapyeong, South Korea. 15,000 South Korean and foreign couples exchanged or reaffirmed marriage vows in the Unification Church's mass wedding arranged by Hak Ja Han Moon, a wife of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the controversial founder of the Unification Church. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Photo by NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images</div>

{Couples} from around the globe take part in a mass wedding ceremony ceremony on the CheongShim Peace World Middle in Gapyeong, South Korea. 15,000 South Korean and international {couples} exchanged or reaffirmed marriage vows within the Unification Church’s mass wedding ceremony organized by Hak Ja Han Moon, a spouse of the late Rev. Solar Myung Moon, the controversial founding father of the Unification Church.

Picture by NurPhoto/NurPhoto by way of Getty Pictures

The Unification Church of Japan has publicly said that Yamagami’s mom was a member however insists the times of soliciting donations in problematic methods are over. The Unification Church has made a degree of distancing itself from the assorted entities underneath its management in Japan by altering its identify underneath the Abe administration and establishing various seemingly unrelated think-tanks and non-profit organizations that critics name “dummy corporations.”

Because the Community factors out, the Unification Church’s enlargement has been pushed partly by its ties to politicians.

The grandfather of Shinzo Abe, Nobusuke Kishi, solid sharp alliances with the group. Kishi was arrested as a conflict felony in 1945, however later launched and placed on the CIA payroll. He and infamous political fixer and yakuza affiliate, Yoshio Kodama, created the Liberal Democratic Get together which has dominated Japan nearly uninterrupted for the reason that Nineteen Fifties. Kishi later turned Prime Minister. He was instrumental within the formation of the Church’s political arm, the Worldwide Federation for Victory Over Communism within the Nineteen Sixties. Kishi and Moon turned so shut that when Moon was jailed for tax-evasion in america, Kishi wrote to President Ronald Reagan asking for him to be launched early.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi,left, and Richard Nixon In Washington On January 20, 1960. </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images</div>

Japanese Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi,left, and Richard Nixon In Washington On January 20, 1960.

Picture by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone by way of Getty Pictures

Kishi’s son and Abe’s father, Shintaro Abe, maintained ties to the group, and Shinzo Abe continued the apply—ignoring warnings that the group was inflicting large social issues in Japan.

The Nationwide Community stated they’d repeatedly warned Abe to interrupt ties with the church, stating that he had given credence to their “predatory and fraudulent actions.”

The ties between Abe and the group weren’t superficial. In 2005 and 2006, whereas a lawmaker, Abe despatched congratulatory messages to occasions co-hosted by the Common Peace Federation which has robust ties to the Unification Church.

In line with supplies from the Nationwide Community and public paperwork, in 2010 and 2012, Abe attended conferences of the Institute for World Technique, one other allegedly Church-affiliated group. In 2011, he and different conservatives put out a one web page opinion advert in the Washington Instances denying Japanese conflict crimes. In 2013, underneath Abe, regardless of opposition inside the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, the group was allowed to vary its identify—thus obscuring its problematic previous. In 2016, Abe invited the chairman of the Japan department of the Unification Church to the Prime Minister’s residence. In September of 2021, Abe despatched a video message to an occasion organized by the Common Peace Federation. He praised the church’s leaders and its “household values.” However Abe wasn’t alone, Donald Trump, Abe’s golf buddy and ideological pal, additionally despatched a video praising the church’s leaders.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Reverend And Mrs. Sun Myung Moon Officiate The Family Federation For World Peace And Unification's Blessing 98 Marriage Re-Dedication Ceremony And Wedding. Over 2000 Couples Were Wedded At Madison Square Garden </p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Photo By Jeff Christensen/Getty Images</div>

Reverend And Mrs. Solar Myung Moon Officiate The Household Federation For World Peace And Unification’s Blessing 98 Marriage Re-Dedication Ceremony And Marriage ceremony. Over 2000 {Couples} Had been Wedded At Madison Sq. Backyard

Picture By Jeff Christensen/Getty Pictures

After Abe’s video message final September, The Nationwide Community once more despatched him a letter asking him to stop and desist supporting the church and its affiliated organizations. It was apparently ignored simply because the 2006 letter was ignored. The gunman, nonetheless, did see the video.

Abe is just not the one LDP member with pleasant relations to the Church. In line with the night newspaper Nikkan Gendai, the Church lengthy offered free labor and secretaries to members of the LDP, dealing with workplace work, coverage, and daily duties whereas ingratiating themselves with the occasion. Of their July 23 version, Gendai printed a listing of 35 members of Abe’s political faction with connections to the Church. Different political events have additionally cultivated robust ties with the Church.

On the press convention on July 12, Lawyer Hiroshi Watanabe stated, “To the victims of the Unification Church, it appears that evidently the police didn’t correctly examine the group (on felony prices of fraud and extortion) as a result of they have been well-connected to politicians. We really feel the identical method.”

Yoshifu Arita, a journalist and Japanese parliamentarian, stated on a tv broadcast aired July 18, that he was instructed by a senior police official, “The explanation we didn’t crack down on this group [when we should have a decade ago] was the intervention of politicians.”

The Letter

In an interview printed with Weekly Bunshun, the uncle of Yamagami describes in nice element how the involvement of the household with the church drove the household into poverty. Yamagami’s mom offered off the land and property her husband left her when he died, and donated one million {dollars} to the church. She was so concerned of their actions, she was hardly ever dwelling. Younger Tetsuya would generally name, asking his Uncle for meals. The uncle would carry Tetsuya and his brother meals and snacks, generally sushi. The mom donated all the cash marked for his school schooling to the church. He joined the Self-Protection Forces to pay for varsity and have become more and more depressed. Yamagami took out a life-insurance coverage leaving his uncle and brother because the beneficiaries and tried to kill himself whereas nonetheless within the service.

Yamagami despatched a letter days earlier than attacking Abe, to a weblog author who had typically written exposés of the Unification Church. It explains his way of thinking.

I [once] wrote to you that I “need a gun so unhealthy {that a} hand would possibly as properly come out of my throat to achieve for one.” Since then and now, I’ve devoted myself to procuring a gun. My devotion resembled that of the Unification Church followers who discard all however their complete life within the identify of a false God…

My fateful encounter with the Unification Church goes again about 30 years. My mom, since having entered the faith, wasted over 100 million yen, our household’s collapse, chapter… As such issues glided by, my teenage years have been over. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this expertise continued to distort the remainder of my complete life.

Whereas I did detest Abe, he’s not the first enemy. He’s no a couple of sympathizer of the Unification Church, one who has nice affect in the true world.

Yamagami instructed the Nara police that he was able to die in his assassination try and that the complete goal of the assault was to carry consideration to the misdeeds of the church.

Unholy Alliances

That has actually occurred. The Japanese public and the media are taking a tough have a look at the relationships between the Liberal Democratic Get together and fringe religions. Already bookstores are filled with books concerning the Unification Church and magazines are working cowl tales. On tv information packages, the hyperlinks to Abe, the LDP, and the Church are being examined.

Professor Koichi Nakano at Sophia College, an authority on Japanese politics, notes that the LDP has gotten into mattress with many different extremist spiritual teams for the reason that Nineteen Nineties.

He notes, “Concerning the Yamagami letter, I additionally assume that it reveals that he totally is aware of what he’s doing. He didn’t kill Abe for his politics, however as a result of he recognized Abe as considered one of [The Unification Church’s] strongest patrons. So the heinous act was dedicated in an try to take his revenge on the Church. He focused Abe, if something, despite his politics.”

For some, the unholy alliance between the LDP and a ‘cult’ that sucks its members dry doesn’t make sense. However there are historic and sensible causes for the wedding.

Nakano explains,”Within the early postwar period, it was anti-communism that introduced collectively such religions because the Unification Church with the Japanese rightwing politicians. On the aspect of the brand new religions, the looks of highly effective conservative politicians of their occasions and publications offered a supply of authority and credibility, and with deeper ties, even entry to favorable authorities dispensations. The LDP politicians, in flip, gained not solely organized votes but additionally marketing campaign workers and secretaries, which have been notably appreciated by faction bosses who have been seeking to enhance their inexperienced and under-resourced underlings quick.”

Abe’s regime was very near the spiritual cult, Nippon Kaigi.

It has an extended historical past. In 1995 quite a lot of ultraconservative religions, together with the Affiliation of Shinto Shrines, which has at all times longed to reclaim its particular standing in prewar State Shintoism, shaped the infamous Nippon Kaigi along with rightwing enterprise and media leaders. It promoted reactionary nationalism that espoused reverence for the emperor, altering the structure, remilitarization, historic revisionism, and conventional gender roles and household values. The world-view of the Christianity primarily based Unification Church and Nippon Kaigi will not be far aside.

For a few years, the more and more well-known alliance between the LDP and Nippon Kaigi, in addition to its hidden alliance with the Unification Church have served it properly, however the assassination of Abe has had surprising blowback. The echoes of these two gunshots will likely be heard in Japan for a few years to come back. For present Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (LDP) the rising voices of dissent and requires an investigation into ties between his occasion and the Unification Church—in addition to different extremist spiritual teams—are a present-day headache.

Final week, journalist and tv announcer, Masaki Kusakabe, in direction of the tip of a particular function analyzing the historical past of the Unification Church, had a harsh message for Japan’s politicians.

He delivered the strains with a video picture of Abe addressing a Unification Church-related gathering behind him.

“The Unification Church is a money-sucking group that may’t stand with out donations from Japan. It’s ill-advised for a politician to consort with them. Much more, they need to keep in mind that sending messages and greetings could endorse the beliefs and actions of the group.”

A lot of Japan heard that sermon and stated, “Amen.”

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