Japan says goodbye to Shinzo Abe amid increased scrutiny of Unification Church

Picture source - Reuters

Japan bid farewell to Shinzo Abe, the former Japanese Prime Minister who was assassinated on July 8, 2022, while leading a campaign trial.

His death, on the other hand, sparked accusations against “Moonies” [members] of the Unification Church in South Korea and Japan.

The East Asian island said goodbye to their former PM on Tuesday with flowers, prayers, and a 19-gun salute after a lot of controversy on his funeral, as it is the first state funeral for a former premier in 55 years, according to media reports.

As cited by media, Japanese and foreign dignitaries including US Vice-President Kamala Harris, Indian and Australian Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Anthony Albanese have paid tribute to Shinzo Abe at a controversial state funeral, as long lines of people gathered to offer flowers and prayers.

According to investigators, Tetsuya Yamagami, the man who shot dead Japan’s longest-serving prime minister on July 8, originally intended to kill the leader of the Unification Church. The killer resented the church because his mother made huge donations to the church. Other former members have also claimed that they were forced to spend huge amounts of money on donations. This is leading to the renewed scrutiny of the Unification Church.

As cited by Al Jazeera, “Shinzo Abe was not his assassin’s preferred target.” Abe’s accused murderer allegedly aimed for the politician because of his ties to the “predatory South Korean religious cult”.

As per the report, the assassination has also raised new questions about the church and its financing. It is also raising awkward questions for Japan’s political setup as the ruling party accepts that roughly half of its lawmakers had ties to the religious organization.

Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi told reporters, “We honestly feel sorry, and we’ll make sure the party no longer has any relationship at all [with the church]”.

The Japanese branch of the church, on the other hand, has acknowledged that Yamagami’s mother had donated to the church but has refused to specify the type of donation. “We don’t know the circumstances that led this family to bankruptcy,” Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the church in Japan, said.

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