Japan’s Kishida vows to regain trust in church controversy

“I squarely face the people’s voices regarding our relationship with the Unification Church,” Kishida said in his speech opening the 69-day parliamentary session.

He promised to “do utmost” to help victims of the church’s suspect businesses and donation collection by setting up a government help desk offering legal advise. He’s also considering to revise the consumer contract law, but did not give details if or how he planned to pursue an investigation into how his party’s church links had affected government policies.

The suspect in Abe’s assassination reportedly told police he targeted the former leader because of his links to the church, which he said took large amounts of money from his mother, bankrupted his family and ruined his life. The South Korean church, because of its questionable recruiting and business tactics in Japan, is recognized by many experts as a cult, though it is registered as a religious group.

Abe, in a video he sent last year to the group’s affiliate, the Universal Peace Federation, praised its leader for her emphasis on traditional family values. Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped the church take root in Japan over their shared anti-communism and other conservative goals.

LDP policy affairs chairman Koichi Hagiuda, who has also acknowledged his own ties to the church, said in a NHK national television talk show on Sunday that the party “regrets that our involvement might have contributed to raise credibility of the church” but that an investigation into Abe’s role would be “difficult” in his absence.

Results of an governing party internal survey showed about half its lawmakers were linked to the church, including some who accepted volunteer work from adherents during election campaigns.

According to another survey released on Friday by the consumer agency – which protects consumer rights and prevents unfair business practices – it had received 880 cases of complaints and inquiries over the past decade related to financial issues that individuals suffered because of the church. Of those, 285 were registered in the past six months alone.

Source: CNA

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