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Japan's PM turns away from church linked to Abe assassination in cabinet reshuffle

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has tried to alienate his government from the conservative Unification Church over ties to assassinated leader Shinzo Abe. , reshuffled the Cabinet on Wednesday.and senior ruling party members.

Kishida's second remodel, just ten months after taking office, was expected to ensure long-term stability until 2025. following the election victory of However, the shocking assassination of Prime Minister Abe on July 8 and its aftermath plummeted public support for the Kishida cabinet, adding to the uncertainty of the political situation.

Mr. Kishida said that it was important to gain the trust of the people, and that the new cabinet had to seriously review its relationship with the church and to appoint those who agreed to help victims of alleged fraudulent religious business. said to include only

"We have to be careful about our relationships with organizations that know about social issues, so they don't arouse suspicion in the public," said Kishida. rice field.

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The Kishida Cabinet's approval ratings fell from 59% to 46%, according to a survey released Monday by NHK Public Television. did.

Most of the respondents said they thought politicians did not adequately explain their relationship with the Unification Church. Kishida's plan to hold a state funeral for Prime Minister Abe has also divided public opinion due to Abe's extremely conservative stance on national security and wartime history.

Political analyst Atsuo Ito said on his TBS talk show, "Cabinet reshuffle was damaging his control," diverting public attention from the Unification Church scandal.

Prime Minister Abe was shot dead during his campaign speech two days before the House of Representatives election. According to police and media reports, the suspect targeted Abe for his alleged ties to the Unification Church, but Abe decided against it after his mother's large donations to the Unification Church caused the family to fall apart.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's body arrives in Tokyo – July 9, 2022

2021 In September, the Universal Peace Foundation praised its commitment to peace on the Korean Peninsula and its focus on family values. Some experts say Abe's appearance in the video may have motivated the suspect.

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The Church's ties to Japan's ruling party date back to Prime Minister Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi. The spread of communism in Japan in the 1960s.

Since his 1980s, the church has faced accusations of fraudulently recruiting and brainwashing its followers into making large donations. Critics argued that while the church contributed to the vote to elevate the borderline candidate to electoral victory, it pushed opposition to equal rights for women and sexual minorities as reflected in government policies.

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On Wednesday, Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the church that now calls itself the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, At a press conference, he said one of its church-affiliated groups, which he called the "Peace Coalition," was more politically active and involved in election campaigns.

However, he denied "political interference" with a particular political party and said it was "deplorable" that Kishida had called on party members to distance themselves from the church.

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that affiliated groups have naturally developed closer ties with conservatives in the LDP than with other groups because they share anti-communist positions.

"We have worked with politicians who have clear views against communism to build a better country," Tanaka said. "We continue to be part of a global network that opposes communism, not just in Japan."

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Kishida denied the church's "inappropriate influence" on government policy.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno remained in office but announced a new cabinet. This included five ministers retaining their posts, another five of his ministers returning, and nine new ministers.

Seven of his ministers who admitted to ties to the church were dismissed. Among them was Prime Minister Abe's younger brother, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, who said church members had been volunteers in past election campaigns. } Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, former central government and ministers attend a photo session at Prime Minister Kishida's residence in Tokyo on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022. (Pool photo via Issei Kato/AP).

Several newly appointed pastors said they had donated in the past or had ties to others in the church, criticizing opposition parties.

Akira Koike, a senior member of the Japanese Communist Party, said the reorganization failed to cover up its ties to the Unification Church.

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Kishida said the main purpose of the remodel was said it was to "get through one of the biggest post-war crises", including the coronavirus pandemic, inflation and economic growth. Tensions between China and autonomous Taiwan and Russia's war against Ukraine. He said strengthening Japan's military strength and spending was a top priority. , Taro Kono, who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defense, has returned to the Cabinet as Digital Minister.

In addition to Matsuno, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Economy Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, Transport Minister Tetsuo Saito and Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki also retained their positions.

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Koichi Hagiuda, Minister of Economy and Trade, who also had ties to the church, was replaced by the chairman of the Party Policy Research Committee and was replaced by Yasutoshi Nishimura, the former Minister of Economy. Katsunobu Kato has been appointed as Minister of Health and Welfare in charge of measures against the new coronavirus for the third time.

Amid growing speculation of a power struggle within Abe's faction, the new Cabinet will carefully balance power among factions and consolidate solidarity, while at the same time bolstering foreign policy, defense, economic security, and pandemic response. proposed to Mr. Kishida that the main portfolio of the company should be left to veterans.

Despite criticism that Japanese politics is dominated by older men, the majority of cabinet ministers are still men over the age of 60, and only two women.

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They include Sanae Takaichi, an ultraconservative close to Prime Minister Abe who has been appointed Minister of Economy and Security; This includes Keiko Nagaoka, who was appointed Minister of Economy and Security for the first time. Appointed Minister of Education as a successor to Shinsuke Suematsu, who acknowledged his connection with the Unification Church.

Gender Minister Seiko Noda admitted to sending a message to a church-related group event attended by her aide in 2001, but took on Masanobu Ogura in her first ministerial post. replaced.

© 2022 The Canadian Press