07/09/2022, 19.41
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Tokyo: Abe's killer wanted to target a 'religious group'

The police did not specify which organisation it was, but Japanese social media pointed the finger at the Unification Church. The former premier and other political figures had links to the sect, but a clearer picture will have to await the outcome of the investigation. How the Unification Church spread from Korea to Japan.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The man who assassinated former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday has told police he wanted to target a religious group that had received donations from his mother, who was later forced to sell her house due to debt.

Tetsuya Yamagami chose to kill Abe because the former premier - the killer explained - had promoted the religious sect.

The Japanese authorities did not specify which group Yamagami was referring to, but online rumours began to circulate that it could be the Unification Church (UC), whose headquarters are in Nara, in the station in front of the election rally where Abe was killed.

The facts have yet to be established by an investigation and trial to confirm or not the religious motive and reveal how deep the links between the former premier and one of Asia's most powerful and controversial Churches were.

Founded in South Korea by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife, the Unification Church spread in Japan in the 1980s through a 'new religion' called Tenchi Seikyo, founded by Kawase Kayo, a shamaness who combined certain teachings of Buddhism with the beliefs propagated by Reverend Moon, in particular the idea that a person's misfortunes stem from the sins of their ancestors.

In fact, it is believed in Japan that Abe's maternal grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, prime minister of Japan from 1957 to 1960, had already collaborated with the UC to create an anti-communist political organisation.

Over the years, the UC has managed to forge ties with prominent right-wing or extreme right-wing figures: Moon had supported US President Richard Nixon and his church later endorsed Donald Trump, who together with Abe has recently attended several events and conferences of the religious sect.

It is still unclear how close the link - also on a financial level - is between the Church and the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party to which Abe belonged.

Expelled from the Presbyterian Church after fleeing North Korea, Sun Myung Moon founded his Church in Seoul in 1954, preaching that he was the 'Lord of the Second Advent', the Saviour for all religions, the new Messiah. His followers (called Moon or Moonies in the US) are required to make donations to the Church to build a new world of peace, consisting of their own schools, hospitals, industries and entertainment centres.

The Unification Church's business activities have, however, repeatedly generated scandal in Japan: parents and friends of the sect's members have accused Moon of manipulating the consciences of young people in order to seize their wealth.

In 1982, the reverend had moved to the United States, where he was sentenced to 11 months in prison for tax evasion. His empire, built between the US and Korea, was then divided among his 14 children.

Despite the fact that the UC has repeatedly proclaimed that it wants to cooperate with the Catholic and Protestant Church, it’s proselytising activities have often targeted the Christian faithful, both in Japan and South Korea, but also in other parts of the world. In 2001, Reverend Moon had succeeded in getting Catholic Bishop Emmanuel Milingo to join his Church and marry him to Maria Sung.

According to some commentators, Milingo's 'conversion' was part of a bigger plan to weaken the Catholic Church in Africa by offering a religion similar to Christianity, but in which married priests, polygamy and magic arts are permitted.

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