Upper house

VOX POPULI: Politicians’ ties to the Unification Church must be examined

The three-way relationship between politics, government and business was once likened to a game of rock-paper-scissors, in which each has the upper hand over the other.

Politicians control bureaucrats through appointments and promotions, and bureaucrats exercise authority over industries through regulation. And industries influence politicians through votes and donations.

Farmers and doctors come to mind as influential groups. But industry organizations seem to have lost much of the power they once had to garner votes, if not the power to raise funds.

The once common practice of voting for candidates supported by employers or business partners and assisting them in their election campaigns is no longer the norm.

Under these circumstances, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, formerly known as the Unification Church, must be something some politicians can lean on.

A member of the Liberal Democrat Upper House was reportedly told by an intra-party faction leader that votes from members of the former Unification Church are sometimes distributed to lawmakers if they are not expected to get enough votes during an election.

The remark seems to suggest that the religious group can muster a strong bloc of votes for the party.

Without showing any particular signs of shame, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told a press conference that members of the religious group had phoned voters in support of his election campaign.

Many LDP lawmakers have attended events hosted by organizations linked to the religious group in an apparent gesture of gratitude for its support in their election campaigns.

Tatsuo Fukuda, chairman of the LDP General Council, said, “I don’t see exactly what’s wrong with” all these things. But he should be able to figure out the problem if he thinks about it a bit more.

In numerous lawsuits, the group’s practice of selling pots and other items to followers at exorbitant prices by taking advantage of their weaknesses was ruled illegal.

Members of the regime have contributed to the reputation of this religious group.

We have to refer to the group as “the former Unification Church” because the Cultural Affairs Agency approved its request for a name change seven years ago.

Full investigation is needed to determine whether the agency’s approval was influenced by politicians who played a game of rock-paper-scissors in the real world.

–The Asahi Shimbun, July 31

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that covers a wide range of topics, including culture, the arts, and social trends and developments. Written by veteran writers from Asahi Shimbun, the column offers helpful perspectives and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.