FOCUS: Kishida's Attempt to Reset Unification Church Issue Backfires
Tokyo, Aug. 21 (Jiji Press)--Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's attempt to use the recent cabinet reshuffling to avoid public criticism over the ties between lawmakers of his Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church seems to have backfired.
Links between the ruling party's members and the religious group, officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, have caused controversy since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead last month by a suspect who later told investigators that the attack was because of rumored links between Abe and the religious group. The suspect held a grudge against the Unification Church, saying his mother, a member of the group, donated a massive amount of money to it.
Kishida reshuffled his cabinet and the LDP executive team on Aug. 10, with the aim of evading criticism over the Unification Church issue, but critical voices are rather increasing due to new revelations of cabinet and LDP members' ties to the religious group.
The prime minister demonstrated his resolve to cut all links with the Unification Church the day before the reshuffling, saying at a press conference, "It'll be a prerequisite for new ministers and party executives to check (their relationships with the group) and review (them) rigorously."
However, it was revealed that at least seven members of Kishida's new cabinet had ties to the religious group.
[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]