Japan continues looking into former Unification Church, 1 year after Abe killing

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The Japanese government is continuing to gather information on a group widely known as the Unification Church to determine whether to seek a court order to disband the group as a religious corporation.

The group, now also known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, came under scrutiny in the wake of the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in July last year. The suspect told investigators that he targeted Abe because he thought the former prime minister had ties with the group.

The education and culture ministry has exercised its legal authority to inquire into the religious organization on six occasions and has issued more than 500 queries.

The queries cover aspects such as civil lawsuits in which the group or its followers were ordered to pay damages for illegal acts, overseas cash remittance by the group and management-related issues.

In response to the first batch of questions issued in November last year, the organization sent eight boxes of documents to the ministry. However, the ministry received only small packets in reply to recent rounds of inquiries.

Sources say the group refused to answer some of the questions, citing the freedom of religion and other justifications.

The ministry has also been interviewing lawyers who have been negotiating with the group and former followers in order to shed light on the organization’s alleged dubious marketing practices and solicitations of large donations from its followers.

As the first anniversary of Abe’s killing approaches, the ministry is believed to be carefully considering whether to seek a court order for the dissolution of the Unification Church as a religious corporation.

The government has pursued such action only twice in the past. One was against the Aum Shinrikyo cult, which launched a deadly sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995.

Content retrieved from: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230707_10/.

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