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Japanese politics have a lot of ties to the Unification Church, which some have described as a “cult.” These ties were revealed after the country’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was assassinated by someone who blamed the Unification Church for his mother’s financial problems. The killer associated Abe with the church, even though he was not a member, and shot him down in public. Now, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has come under public pressure to look into the church, especially since it’s been revealed that around half of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have ties to it.
Now, Japan’s government has decided to really investigate the group. On Tuesday, it announced a probe into the Unification Church’s finances and how it’s organized. This investigation could even lead to the church losing its legal status, which would mean losing tax exemptions. It’s also being looked at for its mediation of child adoption. The church has until December 9 to respond to questions given by investigators. Some of those questions relate to its fundraising activities, which have been pretty widely criticized.
"For Kishida, it's clear that this is a huge drag on him. He's going to be linked to the Unification Church issue no matter what," said Levi McLaughlin, a North Carolina State University professor studying religion in Japan.
"We would like to make clear what the truth is based on evidence and documents, information from relevant sources, as well as the investigation we will conduct," said education minister Keiko Nagaoka on Tuesday.