Some 10% of prefectural assembly members across Japan have had ties with the controversial religious group known as the Unification Church, a Jiji Press survey showed Sunday.
The survey has implications for next spring’s unified local elections, in which such ties may be scrutinized.
The poll covered a total of 711 incumbent members as of the end of November of the prefectural assemblies of Hokkaido, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Aichi, Osaka, Hyogo and Fukuoka. Of those, 593 gave valid responses. The eight assemblies will be subject to the unified elections.
Of the respondents, 67, or 11.3%, admitted that they have had relations with the Unification Church or its affiliated bodies.
The 67 included 44 members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, six of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), five of Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, and one of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, as well as 11 independents.
All told the survey that they would review their ties with the religious group or had already severed such ties. Of the 118 assembly members who did not give valid responses, meanwhile, 86 were LDP members.
Of the 67 assembly members who have had Unification Church ties, 56 said that they have attended events linked to the group or sent congratulatory messages to such events, 11 said they have paid fees for the events, and four said they have received support for their election campaigns. None of them said they had concluded a policy accord with the group.
A spokesperson for the Unification Church told Jiji Press that the group, as an organization, has no ties with political parties or politicians and has not given any related instructions to its followers.