August 15, 2022

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Japan | Influence of the Moon on “Division”

A religious group? policy? Multinational company? The lobby? The Unification Church has drawn more attention than ever since the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Seven points to understand.

Published at 12:00 am.

Jean-Christophe Lawrence

Jean-Christophe Lawrence

1. Stimulation

On July 8, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated in the street during a speech. The killer, Tetsuya Yamagami, explained that he wanted to punish the politician, whom he said was linked to a “certain organization” that he accused of destroying his family. Local media quickly identified the organization in question as the Unification Church, known as the “Moon Sect.” According to Japanese press reports, the murderer’s mother gave 100 million yen (almost one million CAN) to the religious organization. His manager in Japan pleaded that his members’ donations were voluntary and that no one forced a follower to donate his shirt. The story drew attention to the “Moon Sect” and its links to the political world.

2. Long term relationship

The Unification Church says Shinzo Abe is not a member. On the other hand, Moon, the former leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), has many indirect but long-standing ties to the faction. As Arnaud Grivaud, an expert on contemporary Japanese politics at the University of Paris Cité, explains, Mr. Thanks to Abe’s grandfather and PLD co-founder Kishi Nobusuke (Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960) the South Korean establishment. It established itself more widely in Japan in the late 1950s.

3. Diverted funds

Relations flourished between the two institutions, which shared the same conservative and anti-communist ideology. Mr. According to Krivat, the fact that the PLD has retained power virtually uninterrupted since 1957 is not new to the Moon faction. They asked their followers to vote for such a PLD candidate. They also sent assistants free of charge to work with MPs. It is a roundabout way of funding the party,” explains the academic. Through a “slightly hidden agreement”, the PLD will be able to benefit from tax benefits that will facilitate the church’s operations, notably allowing it to change its name in 2015. Then the Prime Minister was… Shinzo Abe.

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4. The Messiah

The Unification Church, now renamed the Family Federation for World Peace but still referred to by the media as the “Moon Sect”, was founded in Seoul in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012). This self-proclaimed messiah, who started with nothing and is said to have “met” Jesus at the age of 15, has over the years built a Christian organization of international stature, established mainly in Korea, Japan and the United States. It also has a chapter in Montreal.

Photo by Ed Jones, Agence France-Presse Archives

Portrait of Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon and his wife Hak Ja-Han, Kapyeong

5. A division?

Moon Sect made a lot of noise in the 1980s, with its “mass weddings” uniting thousands of couples. Its members believe that the third A world war was necessary to complete the founder’s mission of peace. Is it a division? “I think it’s better to avoid the term, which is associated with something sinister, nuanced,” says Mike Grobveld, director of InfoSect. “To me, it’s a very shorthand way to describe a movement that takes up too much space. Elaine Barker, a professor at the London School of Economics and an expert on the subject, calls the “new religious movement” Loves the word.

6. A dark side

The Unification Church is a veritable financial empire, making billions in construction, food, automobiles, tourism, education, or media. But this success hides a dark side. Sun Myung Moon was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1984 for tax evasion in the United States and his church, which has been repeatedly criticized for financially abusing his followers. After Reverend Moon’s death, the church was torn by a succession crisis. One of Reverend Moon’s sons now runs a branch that supports the carrying of arms and allows the presence of machine guns at religious ceremonies.

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7. A winning bet

Arnaud Grivat wonders why the Japanese media needed to wait for a coup to explore the links between the sect and the PLD. Nevertheless, the organization’s political activities were known, at least in the United States, where Reverend Moon supported Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. In this sense, Mr. Shinzo Abe’s assassination is more than a news item. Grivat concludes. “If the killer’s aim was to get people talking about this division and to show things related to the political world, it was successful…”

The Montreal branch of the World Federation of Families for Peace did not respond to messages Pres.

With the BBC, Discovery, Al-Jazeera, Conversationdeficiency