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The phrase ‘Shukyo Nisei’, literally translating to ‘religion second generation’, featured in the annual list of the top 10 Japanese buzzwords for 2022, curated by Japanese publisher Jiyu Kokumin Sha. The phrase refers to children of parents who are devout followers of a religious group and the children are essentially born into the particular group’s faith. While ‘Shukyo Nisei’ is not associated with the membership of any specific group, it came back into the Japanese lexicon after the brazen assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on July 8, 2022. Abe’s 42-year-old assassin Tetsuya Yamagami on Friday was indicted by Japanese prosecutors on charges of murder and violating the country’s gun laws.

Yamagami, who fashioned a makeshift gun out of metal pipes to carry out the assassination, confessed to investigators that he targeted Abe over his ties to the Unification Church, saying that he had long-held a “grudge” against the religious group, which he claimed had pushed his mother into bankruptcy and destroyed his family. After first planning to target the Church’s top leaders and a failed attempt in 2019 to carry an incendiary weapon into a church meeting, Yamagami decided to target the former Premier after watching a video of Abe’s virtual appearance in September 2021 at the digital Rally of Hope organised by the Universal Peace Foundation, a Church-affiliated organisation, under the acting leader of the Church, Hak Ja Han, the widow of its founder Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Abe reportedly appreciated the group’s “focus and emphasis on family values” and said that they had caused “unbelievable” inspiration for the “entire planet”.

Mass weddings

The Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, often described as a ‘cult’ by critics, was founded by the late Moon, a self-declared messiah, in 1954 in South Korea.

Moon was born into a family that later converted to Christianity in northwest Korea in 1920 when it was under Japan’s occupation. During the Korean War, he fled from Pyongyang to the South Korean city of Pusan and laid the ground to start his own church. A 2010 investigation by NPR noted that Moon said his purpose on earth was to complete the mission of Jesus, who had appeared to him when he was a poor teenager. According to the Reverend, Jesus was not supposed to be crucified but marry and raise a family. This, he said, is why he matched thousands of men and women who had never seen each other before and officiated their weddings at the Unification mass-wedding events. Followers were told that Mr. Moon and his wife were their “true parents”, while the reverend’s family was addressed as the “true family”.

Content retrieved from: https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/unification-church-the-house-of-moon/article66379175.ece.

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