The Unification Church, the religious group linked to the possible motive for the murder of Shinzo Abe

Controversy and scandal have haunted the Unification Church for decades, a religious group linked to millionaire businesses that is now linked to the possible motive for the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last Friday, July 8.

According to the Japanese press, Tetsuya Yamagami, Abe’s confessed killer, told police that he acted out of spite against a religious organization that had pressured his mother to donate large amounts of money, causing the ruin of Abe. his family.

He believed that Abe had favored that religious institution in Japan.

Although the police in that country have not revealed the name of the religious organization, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (Family Federation for Unification and World Peace, the name currently used by the Unification Church) confirmed that Yamagami’s mother was a member of the Unification Church.

Tomihiro Tanaka, head of that organization in Japan, confirmed that the woman had joined in 1998, then left and returned this year.

According to the Japanese press, Yamagami’s mother sold her house and land more than two decades ago to make a donation of about $700,000..

The Unification Church ensures that all donations are voluntary.

Although the reasons why Yamagami considered that Abe favored the Unification Church are not entirely clear, it is known that the late Japanese former president came to participate as a paid speaker in one of the many events organized by that group.

Tetsuya Yamagami, Abe’s confessed attacker, said he acted out of spite against a religious organization.

On the other hand, last June, Akihiko Kurokawa, leader of Japan’s NHK party, called the Unification Church an “anti-Japanese cult” and blamed Abe’s maternal grandfather, the former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, for having allowed the arrival of that organization in the country in 1958.

But, what is the origin of this institution and why has it caused controversy?

From Korea to the world

The Unification Church was created in 1954 in South Korea by Sun Myung Moon.

It is a variation of Christian theology based on the idea that, by sinning, Adam and Eve failed the divine plan and that the world needs a new messiah who would be Moon himself.

According to their beliefs, the loss of divine grace was due to the fact that Eve had illicit sexual relations with the devil in the spiritual plane, which led to the subsequent fall of Adam and that all humanity ended up replicating the lineage of satan.

The Unification Church considers the family as the foundation stone of society and spiritual development, which is why it attaches great importance to marriage and, in fact, it is known worldwide for organizing large mass weddings.

From South Korea, this institution passed to Japan and, in the late 1950s, began to move to the West, where for decades it was branded as a “cult.”

He managed to establish himself in the United States, where Moon settled in the 1970s, and also since the 1980s it has had a presence in several Latin American countriesespecially in Brazil.

Moon visited Argentina several times, where he met with prominent politicians, including former President Carlos Menem.

faith and business

The Unification Church is known for its ability to raise financial resources, work in which has been very successful in Japan where, according to experts, it originates aroundhe 70% of funds that he has managed and that are estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

In fact, a former high-ranking member of that institution even told Washington Post that between the 1970s and 1980s, Moon brought some $800 million to the United States from Japan.

Part of these resources have come from the sale of religious objects with supposed spiritual powers. manufactured by companies belonging to the Moon family, but above all of the so-called “spiritual sales”.

Through this mechanism they ask people for financial donations to “help raise the spirit” of their deceased loved ones.

Reverend Moon and his wife officiating at a mass wedding in Seoul in 2000.
Reverend Moon and his wife officiating at a mass wedding in Seoul in 2000.

According to people who belonged to that organization, its members in Japan review the obituaries and then visit the homes of the bereaved to tell them that the deceased person had contacted the Church and had asked his family to find money from the bank to donate it and thus achieve their spiritual elevation.

These fundraising mechanisms have led to several lawsuits in Japanin which hundreds of affected people have been rewarded in court.

Elgen Strait, a former member of that organization, told the British newspaper The Telegraph about the pressure there to donate.

“There is a concept throughout the organization that your spiritual standing is directly affected by the amount of money you give. In the United States, you are expected to give 10% of your income before taxes each month. In Japan, it’s 30%. But that’s just for starters,” she noted.

Moon, who in 1982 was jailed in the US for tax evasion, also became a businessman who was estimated to have a fortune of some $900 million when he died in 2012 at the age of 92.

At that time he had investments in a soccer team, in a car factory, an arms factory and in the newspaper Washington Timesamong other businesses.

power that attracts

For decades, Moon and the Unification Church they sought to link up with politicians and well-known figures whom they invited as paid lecturers to the various events they organize.

According to experts, this was part of a strategy to achieve greater credibility by linking with well-known figures.

Shinzo Abe.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe participated as a speaker at an event linked to the Unification Church.

Thus, for example, at the same conference in 2021 in which former Prime Minister Abe participated called “Rally of Hope” they were also present donald trump and former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper.

Former US presidents like Gerald Ford Y George H. W. Bush participated in conferences of that organization in the mid-1990s, as well as former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and humorist Bill Cosby.

As he told Washington Post researcher Larry Zilliox, who has spent years investigating Moon, the purpose of these hires is clear.

“They will pay anyone who gives them legitimacy. The big names will attract the smaller names, which are the people who can help them with their local initiatives,” he noted.

Since Moon’s death, his widow, Hak Ja Han Moon, has been in charge of the Unification Church, while two of his sons are in charge of smaller organizations.

Although in 2012 the organization said that it had some three million faithful worldwide, experts believe that figure is excessive.

Different estimates place the actual number between 50,000 and 600,000 members.

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