What is the Unification Church and why is it in the spotlight?

The church is known for its unique view of Christianity and practices that critics have called worship. Shinzo Abe murder suspect resented church, of which Abe was a supporter, for crippling his family’s finances

File photo Shinzo Abe. PA

A police investigation into the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has revealed that the suspect’s mother is a member of the Unification Church. The church leader confirmed the connection.

Read: Who is the 41-year-old man arrested for shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe?

According to a news agency report Reuters, Tetsuya Yamagami believed Abe promoted a religious group to which his mother made a “huge donation” and then went bankrupt.

What is the Unification Church?

The Unification Church, named the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, was founded in South Korea by Sun Myung Moon in 1954 before its headquarters moved to the United States in 1972.

According British, the church is known for its mass weddings and teaches a unique Christian theology. It has generated a lot of controversy and its members are often referred to as “Moonies”.

The Unification Church identifies Moon as the Messiah who will plant God’s heart of love in his followers and complete the works of Jesus. Having married and raised the “ideal” family, Moon called on church members to follow his example and thereby participate in God’s plan of restoration.

Read also: Death of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: political assassinations that shook the world

Followers of the Unification Church believe they can help establish the kingdom of God on Earth by accepting the blessing of their marriage at one of the mass wedding ceremonies for which the Church has become well known. known.

The “Sacred Matrimony Blessing Ceremony” is a central ritual by which couples are “taken out of the lineage of sinful mankind and grafted into the sinless lineage of God.” In such a blessing ceremony in 2009, 20,000 couples from all over the world got married.

According to Reuters, church affiliates include daily newspapers in South Korea, Japan and the United States. Moon ran a business empire and founded the conservative Washington Times newspaper.

Why did the church find itself in the middle of the Abe assassination case?

According to a report by The GuardianYamagami told investigators that he originally intended to target the leader of the organization, but also intended to kill Abe, who he believed had promoted the church in Japan.

Yamagami claimed his mother made a ‘huge donation’ to the church more than 20 years ago which crippled the family’s finances.

Also Read: Japan’s Longest-Serving Prime Minister and the Mastermind Behind Quad: A Look at the Life and Career of Shinzo Abe

Last year in September, Abe, who held conservative views, attended an event hosted by a church-affiliated organization and delivered a speech praising his work for peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to the church website.

The Guardian reported that Abe’s maternal grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who served as prime minister from 1957 to 1960, was allegedly involved in establishing a political group linked to the Unification Church, which shared his views anticommunists.

The Kyodo The news agency, citing investigative sources, said Yamagami had developed a deep resentment towards Kishi which he directed against Abe.

Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japanese branch of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, said Yamagami’s mother first joined the church around 1998 but stopped attending in 2009. and 2017.

She re-established communication with church members about two or three years ago and for the past six months has attended religious events about once a month, he said.

Tanaka said the church only learned of the mother’s financial struggles after speaking to those close to her. He said he did not know what had caused these difficulties, Reuters reported.

He said neither Abe nor Yamagami were members of the church, adding that the group would cooperate with the police investigation if asked.

With contributions from agencies

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