The Japanese government and ruling coalition appear set to reject a request by the opposition parties to hold an extraordinary Diet session on relations between Cabinet ministers and the former Unification Church.
The religious organization, now known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, has allegedly been involved in so-called “spiritual sales” and other dubious marketing practices.
An NHK investigation found that at least 32, or about 40 percent, of the 73 ministers, state ministers and parliamentary vice-ministers of the recently reshuffled Cabinet have connections to the organization or its associated groups. Some of them were found to have paid fees to the groups.
The policy chief of the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Hagiuda Koichi, was found to have visited a facility linked to the organization with Diet member Ikuina Akiko in June. Ikuina won her first Diet election on the LDP ticket in the following month’s Upper House race.
Hagiuda, who was the industry minister at the time of the visit, said on Thursday he believed the organization no longer posed any problems to society.
But he added he now regrets having lacked consideration for people suffering due to issues related to the organization.
The Constitutional Democratic Party and other opposition forces asked the heads of both Diet chambers to quickly convene an extraordinary session to debate the government’s posture on relations between ministers and the organization.
The CDP’s Diet affairs chief Mabuchi Sumio said Prime Minister Kishida Fumio needs to fulfill his responsibility as the issue involves various politicians.
The LDP’s Diet affairs chief Takagi Tsuyoshi said it is up to the government to decide whether to convene a Diet session.
The government and the ruling coalition appear unlikely to meet the opposition’s request. They are instead expected to continue calling on lawmakers to explain and review their links to the organization.
The organization came under the spotlight after former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was fatally shot in July.
The suspect in the shooting reportedly told police that he held a grudge against the organization and believed Abe had ties to it.
He claimed his mother had donated huge sums of money to the organization, bringing his family close to financial ruin.