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Japan PM shakes cabinet amid protests over ties to Unification Church

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday, pushing ties with the Unification Church after mounting backlash over the ruling party's ties to the controversial group. dismissed some cabinet ministers. Declining public support.

Kishida announced a new government team earlier than analysts expected. This highlights how parliamentary and church ties became the prime minister's responsibility less than a year after he came to power.

Some key ministers, such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Finance, retained their positions. But other prominent cabinet ministers have been sacked, including Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, the younger brother of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was killed.

The suspect who killed Abe said his mother was a member of the Unification Church and went bankrupt because of donations to the Unification Church, and accused Abe of promoting the group.

Politician Shigenobu Tamura said, ``The criticism of the Unification Church caused a significant drop in public support for the government, and stopping that decline was a major reason for the reorganization of the Cabinet and major political parties.'' said. Former Liberal Democratic Party commentator.

In total, seven of his pastors who revealed ties to the church were reorganized, Tamura said. Koichi Hagiuda, Minister of Industry, was one of them, instead holding a prominent position in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The religious group itself held a rare press conference with foreign media on Wednesday, where Tomihiro Tanaka, head of the area, said the group was asking its followers for donations they could not afford.

Although Kishida himself has said he has nothing to do with the Unification Church, on Tuesday the new cabinet ministers and party officials said they would "thoroughly" seek ties with the Unification Church. “We need to seriously consider it,” he said. strict line.

He and other ministers will hold a press conference later Wednesday.

However, Minoru Terada, who was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications in the reshuffle, handed money over to Unification Church-affiliated groups, the Asahi Shimbun reported. Economy Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, who remains in office, also said he had donated to church-related organizations.

Mr. Terada was quoted in a newspaper as unaware that the group he gave money to had ties to the Unification Church and would not do business further. He was quoted as saying he would explain his contribution.

"The (Unification) Church has deep roots," said political commentator Joji Harano.

"Party unity and reconciliation may remain distant given the potentially explosive issues they are grappling with."