The man accused of killing former Japanese premier Shinzo Abe blames the Church for bankrupting his mother
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida waves as he delivers a speech before the start of the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Mie prefecture on Oct. 9. (Photo: AFP)
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida ordered a government probe into the Unification Church on Monday, after the assassination of former premier Shinzo Abe renewed scrutiny of the sect.
The church has been in the spotlight because the man accused of killing Abe was reportedly motivated by resentment against the group, which has been accused of pressuring adherents to make hefty donations and blamed for child neglect among members.
Officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the organization was founded in Korea by Sun Myung Moon and its members are sometimes called "Moonies".
The church has denied wrongdoing, but a parade of former members have gone public with criticism of its practices, and revelations about its links with top politicians have helped tank Kishida's approval ratings.
Kishida told parliament on Monday that there were "many victims" of the church and its related groups who had found themselves in poverty or facing family breakdown.
"Efforts to help them are still insufficient," he said, so "the government will exercise its right to probe the church, based on the Religious Corporations Act".
The government also wants to implement other measures, such as strengthening "initiatives to prevent child abuse and help the offspring of religious followers with their education and employment", Kishida said.
Local media said the probe would examine whether the church had harmed public welfare or committed acts at odds with its status as a religious group.
The investigation could lead to a dissolution order, which would see the church lose its status as a tax-exempt religious organization, though it could still continue to operate.
Only two religious groups in Japan have ever received such an order, reports said, one of which was the Aum Shinrikyo cult that carried out the 1995 sarin attack on the Tokyo metro.
The other is a group that defrauded members.
But the government is reportedly hesitant about the possibility of issuing the Unification Church such an order due to religious freedom concerns.
Share your comments
In a land area of 17,832 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers Kyoto, Shiga, Nara and Mie
Baucau is the second-largest city in East Timor, after Dili, the capital, which lies 122 km east of
Palawan ... ... . known the world over as the Philippines last ecological frontier. It is where one is brought to vast
The minor basilica of the Twenty-Six Holy Martyrs of Japan in Nagasaki beholds the sacrifices of...
The Cathedral of Saint Joseph is the mother church of Kuching Archdiocese in the sole...
Church of Our Lady of Lourdes is a must visit for Asian Catholics who revere Mother Mary and...