The Japanese government will call for the dissolution of the Unification Church, known as the Moon Sect, following an investigation following the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July 2022, the education minister said Thursday.
”Given the serious damage caused” by this organization, the government considers that “This is a case that may be the subject of a dissolution order”Education Minister Masahito Moriyama told the press after meeting with a group of experts.
He government could apply to dissolve the organization before the Tokyo magistrate’s court on Fridayaccording to local media.
The murder suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, acted by resentment against the Moon Sect that stole large donations from his mother that left the family bankrupt.
The man also thought that the former prime minister was someone close to that sect.
The group, which has been renamed “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification” denied any reprehensible act on its part and promised to prevent its members from making “excessive” donations.
But many Former members publicly criticized Moon sect practices, accused of imposing donation targets on its followers. Her revelations about her ties to leading political figures in Japan contributed to the decline in popularity of the current government, led by Fumio Kishida.
For decades, the church restricted the mental state of followers to incapacitate them in making decisions, forcing them to purchase expensive goods and donate beyond your financial abilitywhich also affected the lives of their families, Moriyama said.
The systematic fundraising tactics caused fear and confusion and seriously deviated from the law on religious groups, according to which the purpose of the legal status of churches is to give people peace of mind, he said.
In October 2022, Kishida ordered the opening of a government investigation into the Unification Church.
Forcing people to donatethe organization “disturbed his tranquility, restricting his freedom, which made his good judgment difficult,” Moriyama considered this Thursday.
If the court ordered the dissolution, the Unification Church would lose its tax exemptions but could continue to carry out its religious activities.
To date, only two religious groups have been subject to such an order in Japan, including the Aum Shinrikyo sect, responsible for the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin gas attack.
Yamagami was arrested at the scene of the attack against Shinzo Abe, who was shot dead in the middle of the street during an election campaign event in Nara (west) on July 8, 2022.
Yamagami is being prosecuted for “murder and violation of the law” on carrying weapons and could be sentenced to death.
The former Japanese prime minister was not a member of the Unification Church but in 2021 he participated in a colloquium organized by a group affiliated with that sect, which was also attended by other politicians, such as former US president Donald Trump.
Founded in Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, this religious organization developed strongly in the 1970s and 1980s, also in Japan.
Moon (1920-2012) forged relationships with Shinzo Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who was prime minister of Japan in the late 1950s.
(with information from AFP and AP)