Japan gov't gave 9.55 mil. yen to Unification Church-linked NGO

Kyodo News, Japan/November 11, 2022

Tokyo -- Japan's Foreign Ministry said Friday it provided around 9.55 million yen ($66,000) in official development assistance to a nongovernmental organization affiliated with the Unification Church in 2018 to build a women's vocational training school in Senegal.

The decision was made because the ministry wanted "to contribute to the advancement of women in society" and "was not aware that the organization was affiliated with the church," according to Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Hayashi, who made the revelation at a House of Representatives foreign affairs committee meeting Friday in response to questioning by the Japanese Communist Party's Keiji Kokuta, added that an investigation will be launched to determine if there were any other similar cases.

According to the ministry, it decided in 2015 to provide financial assistance to the project.

Friday's meeting also found that in 2018, the Japanese ambassador to Rwanda delivered a speech at a ceremony held at a vocational training school run by the Women's Federation for World Peace, an organization linked to the Unification Church.

A meeting last month revealed that the ministry had presented a Foreign Minister's Commendation to the director of a school operated by the women's organization in Mozambique.

But the commendation was rescinded after it was found that the director had engaged in missionary work for the church at the school.

"We will cast a wide net to confirm these cases with a stance of having no future relationship with the group," Hayashi said.

Scrutiny of the Unification Church, now formally called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, intensified following the killing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July.

Abe's attacker, Tetsuya Yamagami, has said he held a grudge against the group after his mother's considerable donations to the church left his family in financial ruin. Yamagami also reportedly said he targeted Abe as he was aware that the former prime minister was linked to the Unification Church.

Approval ratings for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet have plunged following revelations of contentious ties between his Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers and the Unification Church, as well as scandals related to other ministers.

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