A #JapanPolitics thread (Part 2): The assassination of former Prime Minister Abe has led to greater attention to the controversial relationship between conservative Japanese politicians and the Unification Church. Let's look at what is being reported... ImageImage
2/ My previous thread on this topic, with 100 tweets following developments between July 22nd and July 31st, can be read at this link: threadreaderapp.com/thread/1550337…
3/ One interesting new development is a UC front group's president saying that Donald Trump's decision to participate via video in a 2021 Unification Church event helped convince Abe to do the same. Police say the suspect decided to kill Abe after watching a video of that event. ImageImage
4/ The UC's US connections are also explored in this TBS interview with former top American political leader of UC, Allen Tate Wood. It includes footage of Wood on stage at the 1970 World Anti-Communist League (WACL) meeting held in Tokyo. ImageImage
5/ The UC was very active in promoting the WACL as an alliance of right-wing anti-communist groups. Wood recalled his surprise upon hearing Japanese right-wing power broker Sasakawa Ryoichi tell the audience that he was "Moon's dog." Image
6/ The video also mentions the relationship between Moon and Abe's grandfather, Kishi Nobusuke. When Moon was convicted and jailed for tax evasion in the United States, Kishi wrote a letter asking President Ronald Reagan correct the "injustice" and release Moon.
7/ The same video includes footage of former Prime Minister Nakasone praising Rev. Moon and the UC as allies in the struggle against communism. Moon's successful use of the Washington Times newspaper to forge ties between the UC and the American GOP is also mentioned.
8/ Wood also talked about the amount of money paid to politicians who participated in UC events: he claims that former US presidents George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan were paid $1 million to give speeches to UC affiliated organizations. Image
9/ The Washington Post reported about Bush's 1995 speaking tour in this article, "MOON GROUP PAYING BUSH FOR SPEECHES" - It does not report the figure Bush was paid, but notes that Reagan was paid $2 million for similar speeches in 1989. washingtonpost.com/archive/politi… Image
10/ The 1995 Washington Post article also quotes Yamaguchi Hiroshi, a lawyer who was fighting to help Japanese victims of the UC. Almost 30 years later, Yamaguchi is still fighting on. He participated in a press conference at the FCCJ yesterday: Image
11/ Former Tokyo Gov. Masuzoe Yōichi tweeted today about the shamelessness of "Korea-hating" Japanese right-wing politicians who have no problem seeking the UC's election support (while it sends Japanese believers' donation money to Korea). Image
12/ The 2008 book "Bad Moon Rising: How Reverend Moon Created the Washington Times, Seduced the Religious Right, and Built an American Kingdom" has been released as a free PDF. Here is an interesting passage about lawsuits in Japan.
gorenfeld.net/badmoonrising/ Image
13/ HBC on 4 Hokkaido politicians in the National Diet with ties to UC front organizations: Itō Yoshitaka, Takagi Hirohisa, and Nakamura Hiroyuki of the LDP, plus Matsuki Kenkō (CDP). They have claimed ignorance of the nature of the organizations. Image
14/ Yomiuri has an English article about PM Kishida's public comment on the UC's ties to politicians: “It is important for politicians to carefully explain each of their relationships with a socially problematic group." japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/genera…
15/ An Asahi editorial on the situation: "Politicians’ ties with Unification Church need to be scrutinized" - they call for an investigation into the Japanese government's approval of the UC's official name change. asahi.com/ajw/articles/1…
16/ Lawyer Kito Masaki speaking on MBS today and telling viewers that politicians sending messages to the UC and participating in its events is not a harmless act. It legitimizes the UC's activities and helps its aggressive fundraising from believers. Image
17/ Kito also states that UC members who "volunteer" for political campaigns will work almost 24/7 if the church tells them it is important. As a lawyer who has represented many victims of the UC, he stresses that it is not in the same category as other religions.
18/ Another high quality news video from TBS - they note that the Unification Church's reported participation in political campaigns is legal and current laws against "anti-social forces" (basically yakuza) would be very hard to apply against the UC.
19/ The TBS report discusses how something like France's 2001 About-Picard law could be passed in Japan to crack down on the UC. At the end of the video, one newscaster rightly points out that the media's lack of reporting on the UC is partly to blame for the current situation.
20/ From NTV's Bankisha: Contrary to the media reports I mentioned in my previous thread, Date Chuichi is now saying that he talked to Hosoda, not Abe, to get UC votes for a candidate in the 2016 election. Image
21/ At the time Abe was Prime Minister and Hosoda was leading Abe's faction within the Diet, so it was no stretch to consider Hosoda's approval as also an approval from Abe.
22/ Here is another NTV video that also explains Date's expectation that Abe's influence would get UC support for his candidate via Hosoda. The candidate, Miyajima Yoshifu, claimed ignorance of support from the church. No comment yet from Hosoda. Image
23/ The Asahi Shimbun on the LDP not conducting a party-wide investigation of its lawmakers' ties with the Unification Church: The LDP has been denying any party-level relationship with the UC and is treating this as a problem for individual lawmakers. asahi.com/articles/ASQ81…
24/ An update from the Financial Times: "How Abe’s killing exposes Japan’s thin line between church and state" with quotes from Sakurai Yoshihide, Nakamasa Masaki, @hotaka_tsukada, @mclaughlin_levi, and myself. ft.com/content/d0656c…
25/ TBS on LDP's denials of a party-level relations with the UC: showing images then LDP Vice President Kōmura Masahiko welcoming an American GOP delegation at the LDP party headquarters in 2017. The UC's USA leader was part of the delegation. Image
26/ Kōmura said he was not aware of the UC leader's presence. During the same May 2017 visit, UC media reported that about 100 Japanese lawmakers attended an event in Tokyo organized by the Washington Times. Two LDP lawmakers are shown: Minorikawa Nobuhide & Nishimura Akihiro. Image
27/ TBS also showed screen captures of a UC-affiliate leader's FB posts, showing him in close proximity of Abe and Suga at Abe's special Cherry Blossom Viewing Party (Sakura wo Miru Kai). Suzuki Eito, who provided the images, said the man attended the parties from 2013 to 2016. Image
28/ ANN on an LDP politician who isn't ashamed about seeking UC support in elections for over 40 years - former Diet member Shimizu Seiichi (now a city councilman in Hokkaido): he thinks media reporting on the UC is exaggerated. Image
29/ Shimzu says that the media created the term "spiritual sales" (霊感商法) for negative reporting about the UC. ANN rebuts this with clips of victims' lawyers speaking about how people are actually being scammed. Shimizu says he plans to seek UC support in future elections.
30/TBS asks questions about the UC to newly elected lawmakers as they arrive at the Diet building yesterday: Usui Shoichi admits seeking UC support and attending UC affiliated events "in the past" when he was in the Chiba prefectural assembly...
31/ Asked by a reporter if he will attend UC events in the future, Usui looks to have some difficulty delivering a straight answer, stumbling over his words before saying that he thinks he will not attend any more UC events. ImageImage
32/ Aoshima Kenta of the Ishin party was also put on the spot by reporters - saying he was once unknowingly attended a UC event and later decided not to have anything to do with them. When asked to explain his decision he was reluctant to provide any specific reason. Image
33/ Inoue Yoshiyuki (LDP) is also shown delivering a vague "apology" about having caused trouble. Inoue, who attended a campaign event where a UC speaker told the audience that he was a "believer," has tried to say he was supporting their "peace" group and not the religion. ImageImage
34/ A reminder to folks who haven't seen my previous threads: Inoue delivered a speech denouncing same-sex marriage at that UC-affiliated event in June 2022. If he thought he was talking to a "peace" organization, why did he pick that as a speech topic? Image
35/ Reiwa party leader Yamamoto Taro emphasizing the foreignness of the UC in remarks to the media: it is "stealing" money "from the people living in this country" and sending it Korea. He believes politicians who have not cut ties with the UC should be removed from office... Image
36/ Yamamoto said they are "wrecking this country" and need to be "erased from this country." He also said that "religious cults" and "cult politics" are problems facing Japan. mainichi.jp/articles/20220…
37/ The UC's FWP front organization holds international events where LDP politicians can meet North American politicians who are also friendly with the UC. This is a "plus," says the LDP's Okuno Shinsuke.
38/ LDP lawmaker Yamamoto Tomohiro does not want to answer questions about the UC. This NTV video shows him tweeting a photo of a meeting held yesterday morning, leaving before the media arrives, and then tweeting out lies about still being at the meeting. ImageImage
39/ Last week I shared video of Yamamoto attending a 2017 event where he gave flowers to Unification Church leader Hak Ja Han and called her "Mother Moon." This isn't one of those cases where a "oops I didn't know it was the UC" excuse will work.
40/ FNN shows Ishiba Shigeru (LDP) denying donations from the UC and telling a reporter to go check his donation reports. His office later admitted the reports showed a 100,000-yen ($750) "individual" donation in 2017 from the president of a UC newspaper. Image
41/ The FNN video also shows former Education/Culture Minister Shimomura Hakubun saying he "feels responsibility now" about the UC name change approval that occurred under his watch in 2015. He still denies involvement in that decision. mainichi.jp/english/articl…
42/ Minister of the Environment Yamaguchi Tsuyoshi (LDP) admits sending a congratulatory message to a UC-affiliated group. His excuse: his office answers all message requests without much consideration and believes all other politicians do the same. asahi.com/articles/ASQ85…
43/ The Komeito party confirms that one of its national lawmakers had a prior connection to a UC front organization. Ishikawa Hirotaka said he briefly attended a WFWP charity sale over 10 years ago and will be careful to avoid such events in the future. mainichi.jp/articles/20220…
44/ Minister for Economic Security Kobayashi Takayuki has admitted sending a greeting in 2018 and physically attending a UC-affiliated event in 2021. He says he was just answering a request from constituents, but will no longer do so in the future. times.abema.tv/articles/-/100…
45/ TBS has uploaded this excellent 1 hour news program discussing the Unification Church's involvement in politics (featuring @yamtom). It includes this huge chart of lawmakers with proven ties to the UC. Most are from the LDP. Image
46/ TBS sent a survey they sent to 536 national lawmakers asking if they had any relationship with the UC. 78 lawmakers said yes (60 LDP, 9 Ishin, 5 CDP, 2 CPP, 1 Komei, and 1 independent). Most of the lawmakers who did not answer the survey were from the LDP. Image
47/ About 38 minutes into the video Prof. Yamaguchi discusses her research on the UC's involvement in the overturning of a gender-equality ordinance passed in 2003 by the city of Miyakonojo in Miyazaki Prefecture. You can read about it in English here: jstor.org/stable/pdf/10.… Image
48/ So far a lot of Japanese media coverage of the UC has focused on the harm it has done to its believers and their families. This TBS program covered a problem with wider impact on Japan- its involvement in the conservative backlash against gender equality/LGBT rights.
49/ From Jiji Press - Prime Minister Kishida "has recently been under fire since the revelations of ties between LDP lawmakers and the Unification Church...Kishida aims to improve his political fortunes by reshuffling the cabinet and LDP leadership" jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k…
50/ Nikkan Gendai: After nearly a month of very weak reporting on the Unification Church's involvement in politics, NHK now reporting more about the topic. But it will be difficult to regain the public trust that it's lost in the last month. nikkan-gendai.com/articles/view/…
51/ A follow-up to #38: TBS aired this segment in which LDP lawmaker Yamamoto Tomohiro tries to dodge reporters' questions about "Mother Moon" by faking a phone call and trying to sneaking out of a meeting room through a side door: Image
52/ Yamamoto told reporters to direct their questions to his office, which told them it was not going to answer their questions. When reporters told him they had already talked to his office and received no answer, he still told them to contact his office. Image
53/ The same report covered National Public Safety Commission chairman Ninoyu Satoshi claiming that there were no complaints filed with police regarding the UC in the last 10 years. A correction was later issued by police - there were complaints, but no arrests. Image
54/ ANN reports on currently serving cabinet ministers with ties to the UC - Minister of Education Suematsu, Defense Minister Kishi, Minister of Trade Hagiuda, Minister of Environment Yamaguchi, and Minister for Economic Security Kobayashi. ImageImage
55/ The PM will announce a new cabinet in a few days, and politicians with UC ties could be on the chopping block. It's already known that Kishi will be gone due to poor health. Ninoyu Satoshi, who is leaving the Upper House after not running for reelection, will also be out.
56/ From The Headline - a list of 121 Japanese politicians with ties to the Unification Church. 100 are currently serving as national lawmakers, and 77 of those 100 are in the LDP. theheadline.jp/articles/666
57/ Speaking at the FCCJ today, Unification Church leadership depicted themselves as victims, saying that they have faced death threats and right-wing harassment via phone/sound trucks since Abe's assassination: news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/8ef56…
58/ TBS follows up on a report bout a pro-UC meeting of lawmakers held in June 2022. A document listed 23 LDP lawmakers as members, but only 3 have said they participated (1 via secretary). Two more claim memory loss and 9 have not answered inquiries. ImageImage
59/ Although earlier media reports indicated Kishida might cut all lawmakers with UC ties, the results speak for themselves: several people tainted by the UC scandal will have posts in the new cabinet.
60/ The LDP had asked members to disclose ties to the UC, but Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization Yamagiwa Daishirō did not go public with his UC ties until shortly after his post-reshuffle cabinet position was confirmed.
61/ ANN reports that 7 members of the new Kishida cabinet have ties to the Unification Church. Okada Naoki, Hayashi Yoshimasa, and Takaichi Sanae all admitted ties after their posts had been confirmed. Image
62/ CDP leader Izumi Kenta responded to the news by denouncing it as a Unification Church cabinet. The media later reported that the CDP's Okada Katsuya did several interviews for the Sekai Nippo, supposedly without knowing it was a UC newspaper. mainichi.jp/articles/20220…
63/Suzuki Eito has been tweeting details of the UC affiliated "peace" summit being held in Korea this week. Here are images of a memorial they held for Abe Shinzo.
64/ Two graphics from a 8/15 NTV news report: 1) 24 politicians in the post-reshuffle Kishida cabinet with ties to the Unification Church, and 2) International leaders who participated in the Unification Church's recent UPF summit. ImageImage
65/ From Asahi TV - at least 26 politicians appointed to various posts after the cabinet reshuffle have ties to the Unification Church. In this video clip, journalist Gotō Kenji criticizes Kishida's weak approach to the issue. Image

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More from @mrjeffu

Nov 6
New JNN/TBS Poll: Prime Minister Kishida's approval rating has dropped to 39.7% (down 3.1 from October). Disapproval has risen 3.8 to 57.7%. It is worst JNN/TBS poll result since Kishida took office a year ago.
The poll also asked people about the economy. 77% had a negative appraisal of the Kishida administration's response to rising prices. 72% answered that the price increases were negatively impacting their households.
The Unification Church issue continues to be a major topic. 65% answered that cabinet ministers who had inadequately explained their ties to the church should resign, while 69% supported ordering the legal dissolution of the church.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 22
The Unification Church held a press conference earlier today in Japan, blaming negative reporting about the UC's exploitative fundraising tactics on "left-wing lawyers." They insisted that the Church ended all of that years ago. Image
As the linked video shows, children of UC members have testified that highly aggressive fundraising is still taking place and that the Church really has not changed its ways. Journalist Suzuki Eito also doubts the Church is actually reforming itself.
The daytime news show Miyaneya carried the press conference live, with longtime UC experts Suzuki Eito and Arita Yoshifu ripping into the Church's claims via live fact-checking text at the bottom of the screen.
Read 4 tweets
Sep 21
Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Yamagiwa Daishirō has been caught (again!) for not disclosing ties to the Unification Church. Photos have been found of him attending a UC event with Church leader Hak Ja Han. Image
Yamagiwa has repeatedly failed to mention ties to the UC, only admitting specific facts after they are discovered by the media. For example, he could not "remember" attending a UC event in Nepal until after the media found photos of it.
Asahi TV describes him as engaging in 後出しジャンケン(atodashi janken), cheating at rock-paper-scissors by delaying his move until after the other person has already played their hand. This really is ridiculous. Image
Read 5 tweets
Sep 13
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kihara Seiji reported to the LDP that he had no ties to the Unification Church. After someone pointed out his participation in a 2016 UC-sponsored event, he miraculously remembered and now admits it. lol.
The same report contains footage of LDP lawmaker Doi Tōru sending a message to a church event in 2021 in which he calls UC leader Hak Ja Han the "true mother" who can unify and bring peace to the world. Doi participated in 5 such events over the years. Image
Doi claims that he wasn't sure what to say at the event so he prepared remarks based on the organizers' suggestions without thinking much about it. Now that the media has the video footage (provided by Suzuki Eito), he is expressing some regret about his remarks.
Read 4 tweets
Aug 24
Nakayama Mineo stepped down as leader of the Kumamoto Kishida Association, but has also denied he knew another group he chaired was related to the Unification Church. Prime Minister Kishida continues to deny any relationship with the church. Image
The organization in question was the Japan-Korea Tunnel Association, which supports a project to dig an undersea tunnel between Japan and Korea. The Unification Church is the principle supporter of this project in Japan, and it is hard to believe Nakayama did not know it.
The undersea tunnel was a dream of UC founder Sun Myung Moon, and considerable funds have been spent on a few test digs. However, as the Asahi TV video linked above notes, it costs about $450 to dig just a millimeter of tunnel, so they are seeking government support for the plan.
Read 5 tweets
Jul 27
A thread: What do Japanese people think about religion? Here are some charts I made using 2017-2022 World Values Survey data, with a few other countries for comparison. First off: the percent of people who picked "no religion" when asked to pick their religious denomination. 1/
2/ So Japanese people are mostly atheists? No. Only 19.1% describe themselves as atheists, compared to 14.3% who answered that they are "religious." More than half - 55.7%- were "not religious."
3/ Do the non-religious Japanese people pray? Yes, they do. The most common answer in Japan, accounting for 28.6%, was that they pray "only on special holy days." 14.5% pray daily, and 5.3% pray several times a day.
Read 20 tweets

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