August 23, 2022

JAPAN: Japan PM Purges Cabinet After Support Falls Over Church Ties. The Man Hated This Church And Claimed To Assassinate Former PM Abe Because Of His Ties To This Church.

The Associated Press
written by Mari Yamaguchi
Wednesday August 10, 2022

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reshuffled his Cabinet on Wednesday in an apparent bid to distance his administration from the conservative Unification Church over its ties to the assassinated leader Shinzo Abe and senior ruling party members.

The reshuffle, second in just 10 months since Kishida took office, followed his July election victory that had been expected to ensure long-term stability until 2025. But Abe’s shocking assassination on July 8 and its impact on politics increased uncertainty as public support for Kishida’s Cabinet plunged.

Kishida said it was important to gain people’s trust and that the new Cabinet included only those who agreed to strictly review their ties to the church and help the victims of the allegedly fraudulent religious businesses.

“We have to be careful about our relationship with an organization that has known social problems so that they won’t raise suspicions among the public,” Kishida said.

A survey released Monday by the NHK public television showed support for Kishida’s Cabinet fell to 46% from 59%.

Most of the respondents said they think politicians have not sufficiently explained their ties to the Unification Church. Kishida’s plan to hold a state funeral for Abe has also split public opinion because of Abe’s archconservative stance on national security and wartime history.

“The Cabinet reshuffle was damage control” to divert the public’s attention from the Unification Church scandal, political analyst Atsuo Ito told a TBS talk show.

Abe was fatally shot while giving a campaign speech two days before the parliamentary election. Police and media reports say the suspect targeted Abe over suspected ties to the Unification Church, which the man hated because his mother’s massive financial donations to the church ruined his family.

Abe, in his video message to the church affiliate the Universal Peace Foundation, in September 2021, praised its work toward peace on the Korean Peninsula and its focus on family values. Some experts say Abe’s video appearance may have motived the suspect.

The ties between the church and Japan’s governing party go back to Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who served as prime minister and shared U.S. concerns over the spread of communism in Japan in the 1960s.

The church since the 1980s has faced accusations of devious recruitment and brainwashing of its adherents into making huge donations. Critics say the church has contributed votes to lift borderline candidates to election victories, while allegedly pushing their opposition to equal rights for women and sexual minorities to be reflected on government policies.

On Wednesday, Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the church, which now calls itself the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, told a news conference that one of its church-related groups, which he called “peace federation,” is more politically active and involved in election campaigns.

But he denied any “political interference” with specific parties and said that Kishida’s call for his party members to distance themselves from the church was “regrettable.”

Tanaka said the church and its affiliate groups have naturally developed closer ties with the Liberal Democratic Party conservatives than others because of their shared anti-communist stance.

“We’ve worked together with politicians who have clear views against communism in order to build a better country,” Tanaka said. “We are pursuing the activity not only in Japan but as part of our global network against communism.”

Kishida denied the church’s “inappropriate influence” on government policies.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, who retained his post, announced the new Cabinet, including five ministers who kept their posts, another five who were brought back and nine first-timers.

Seven ministers who acknowledged their ties to the church were removed. They include Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Abe’s younger brother, who said that church followers were volunteers in his past election campaigns, and Public Safety Commission Chairman Satoshi Ninoyu, who attended an event organized by a church-related organization.

Several newly appointed ministers said they had given donations and had others links to the church in the past, triggering criticism from opposition leaders.

Japanese Communist Party senior lawmaker Akira Koike said the reshuffle failed to cover up the Unification Church ties. “It only showed the LDP’s deep ties to the church because they cannot form a Cabinet if they exclude lawmakers linked to the church.”

Kishida said the main purpose of the reshuffle was to “break through one of biggest postwar crises” such as the coronavirus pandemic, inflation, growing tensions between China and self-ruled Taiwan and Russia’s war on Ukraine. He said that bolstering Japan’s military capability and spending was a top priority.

Kishi was replaced by former Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, and Taro Kono, who previously served as a vaccination tsar during the pandemic as well as foreign and defense minister, returned to the Cabinet as digital minister.

Along with Matsuno, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Economy Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, Transportation Minister Tetsuo Saito, Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki also kept their jobs.

Economy and Trade Minister Koici Hagiuda, who also had church ties, was shifted to head the party policy research committee and replaced by former Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura. Katsunobu Kato was appointed health minister for the third time, tasked with coronavirus measures.

The new Cabinet suggested Kishida tasked veterans with key portfolios such as diplomacy, defense, economic security and pandemic measures while carefully keeping a power balance among party wings to solidify unity amid growing speculation of a power struggle within Abe’s faction.

Despite criticism that Japanese politics is dominated by older men, the majority of the Cabinet members are still men older than 60, with only two women.

They include Sanae Takaichi, an ultra-conservative close to Abe who was appointed economic security minister, and Keiko Nagaoka, a first-timer who became education minister and replaced Shinsuke Suematsu, who also acknowledged his Unification Church links.

Gender Minister Seiko Noda, who admitted to sending a message to a church-related group’s event in 2001 that was attended by her aide, was replaced by Masanobu Ogura in his first Cabinet post.


Business Today
written by Staff
Wednesday August 10, 2022

The entire Japanese government has resigned, Suptnik reported quoting a Kyodo news agency report.

A special meeting of the cabinet started at 11.30am local time (02.30am GMT). The new Japanese government led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is expected to be announced soon.

Originally, the government reshuffle was supposed to be carried out in early September, but now due to the mention to accelerate the promotion of his economic concept of “new capitalism”, the need to take action due to rising food and fuel prices, and in order to prepare in advance for the session of parliament, the prime minister decide to speed up the reshuffle process in the government

Approval ratings slide

Earlier, Bernama reported Japan’s prime minister reshuffled his cabinet Wednesday after a slump in approval ratings, replacing the brother of assassinated ex-leader Shinzo Abe as defence minister.

Fumio Kishida led his ruling party to victory in an upper house election last month, days after Abe was shot dead by a man resentful of the Unification Church.

Since then, as the public scrutinises the church’s ties with Japanese politicians and Kishida’s handling of the economy, approval ratings for the government have tumbled.

They fell 13 percentage points in three weeks to 46 percent, according to a poll published Monday by public broadcaster NHK, while another survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily showed a drop of eight points from July to 57 percent.

Political veteran Yasukazu Hamada was named defence minister — a key role given Kishida’s pledge to ramp up the defence budget to counter growing threats from China and North Korea.

Hamada, who previously served as defence minister from 2008-9, replaced Abe’s brother Nobuo Kishi, whose ailing health has prompted concern.

Kishi also recently vowed to “thoroughly review” his links to the Unification Church, after acknowledging that church members had served as campaign volunteers.

Since Abe’s death a month ago, Japanese media has revealed that many ruling lawmakers — especially those in Abe’s faction — received similar assistance from Unification Church members, something the group says followers only do as private citizens.

The organisation founded in Korea in 1954, whose followers are colloquially known as “Moonies”, has confirmed that the mother of the man suspected of killing Abe was a member.

She reportedly declared bankruptcy after making donations of around 100 million yen ($1 million at the time) to the church. The public is also split over Kishida’s decision to hold a state funeral for Abe, Japan’s longest serving prime minister whose nationalistic stance was divisive.

🚨👇 BONUS 👇🚨
UPDATE 8/23/22 at 7:59pm: Added info below.

Reuters News
Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Kim Coghill
Monday August 22, 2022

SEOUL - Japanese cabinet members need to check and review their ties with the Unification Church to alleviate public concerns, a government spokesperson said on Monday, in a response to tumbling approval ratings for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

"Regarding the issues related to the Unification Church, we should pay enough attention to relationships with organizations that are socially criticized, so people won't have concerns," Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a regular news conference.

Longstanding links between the strongly anti-communist church, which critics call a cult, and Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, have come into spotlight, hurting the popularity of Kishida's government, in the wake of the killing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination.

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