Religious leader claims deliberate lies led to Abe assassination
After the assassination of former Prime Minister Abe due to misinformation, an unreasonable dissolution request will be made.
by Haruhisa Nakagawa, Tokyo Christian Theological Institute Executive Secretary, President of Japan Christian Theological Institute, SALTY Editorial Committee Member. SALTY is the Japanese Christian opinion website salty-japan.net. He conducted an undercover investigation of the Unification Church in 2012.
The Japanese government is said to be submitting to the court as early as October a request for the dissolution of the Unification Church as a religious corporation.
I have been observing this organization from an anti-perspective for 25 years, and I have written several related articles about this organization. However, what constantly strikes me in the midst of this, is the gap between public perception and the actual situation.
Initially, individuals like Yoshifu Arita, Eito Suzuki, and Professor Kimiaki Nishida who are close friends of lawyer Masaki Kito [leading activist lawyer], appeared on television and discussed this issue. To me, it seemed like one of different groups was merely expressing its own opinions, and I expected that discussions from different angles would eventually emerge. However, it appears that there hasn’t been any sign of brakes being applied, and the conversation swiftly moved in one direction before anyone could stop it.
I could understand the intention of the National Network of Lawyers against Spiritual Sales (NNLASS) to influence public opinion and push the government to file a dissolution request. However, usually there should be discussions involving both sides and opposing views with room for direction adjustments and corrections. However, the information circulating publicly seems to excessively emphasize one particular perspective. To me it appears as if the opinion of one group dominates the entire discourse.
To borrow the words of theologian Hans Küng from the Second Vatican Council, “Half a truth is also half a lie.”
Especially in matters of religion, we must not allow it to result in the same kind of sensationalism as scandals involving celebrities or politicians that stir up public opinion. We should act more carefully. This issue, in particular, has escalated since the assassination of former Prime Minister Abe, but until that time, a significant amount of misinformation had already accumulated. Therefore, it should be viewed as a deeper-seated issue than what is currently being considered.
Misinformation and its source led to the death of former Prime Minister Abe.
There had been a narrative suggesting that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a “deep relation” with the Unification Church, which led an individual, who believed in it, to take extreme actions and ultimately resulted in the assassination of Prime Minister Abe.
In my opinion, the term “relation” itself is broad and may include various types of relation such as “neighborly relationships”, “friendship”, “acquaintance”, and even “conflict”, “hostility”, and “a relationship with others”.
Therefore, I deliberately wrote three articles with the strong title “Mr. Abe had no relation with the Unification Church.” Now, one year has passed since that tragic shooting incident, and I believe everyone can see that what I was saying was correct.
So, it is important to look at who was speaking the truth and who was spreading falsehoods about this issue and consider changing our sources of information. False information and unreliable sources have led to irreversible consequences. The tragedy that has already occurred cannot be undone, but we can change false information and information sources. If we don’t even do that, then that is “below standard human morality”.
① Video message by former Prime Minister Abe sent to UPF (Universal Peace Federation)
There were individuals who have propagated the idea that former Prime Minister Abe had deep involvement with Unification Church-related organizations based on the fact that he sent a video message to UPF gatherings. However, it’s important to note that UPF stands for Universal Peace Federation, an international NGO with consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Prominent figures from around the world, including former President Trump and other leaders of major countries, have sent messages to UPF events. Figures like Vice President Pence and Secretary Pompeo of the U.S. Republican Party have even attended UPF events in South Korea. In this context, we must recognize that this was considered acceptable on a global scale. Thinking of the situation, we may say that Abe’s sending a video indicates comparably nothing special relation. In other words, the attempt to sensationalize and present Abe’s video message as a special relationship has been exaggerated and should be corrected.
② Full text of the video message sent to UPF
When you look at the full text of the video message, it neither praises the Unification Church nor venerates Mrs. Hak Ja Han. Only a part of the polite expression directed towards UPF, “I pay my respects to President Hak Ja Han and everyone who has worked tirelessly for the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula,” was isolated and became widely known. In fact, I have never seen a Japanese person who doesn’t include polite words when giving greetings. It’s perfectly normal to use polite expressions, and it is a mistake to claim that “Abe had a relationship with the Unification Church” based solely on this video message.
③ The story that former Prime Minister Abe received 50 million yen as payment from UPF
Eito Suzuki has claimed that former Prime Minister Abe received 50 million yen as appearance fee from UPF, but there is no evidence to support this claim whatsoever. Despite mentioning “inside information”, no substantiation for the appearance fee has emerged. UPF has also denied this allegation.
Nevertheless, false information continues to be disseminated by individuals influenced by Eito Suzuki’s statements, and this misinformation is still being believed by some.
④ Testimony by Eito Suzuki regarding former Prime Minister Abe’s invitation of chairman Tokuno from the Unification Church to the Prime Minister’s residence
Eito Suzuki, who claims to have inside information from the religious group, said, “In early June 2016, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited Mr. Eiji Tokuno, the President of the Unification Church / Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, along with the wife of the Chairman Yong-cheon Song, to the Prime Minister’s Residence”
However, the Prime Minister’s daily schedule is meticulously recorded. When examining the Prime Minister’s schedule for early June 2016, it appears highly unlikely on any day except the 3rd and the 8th of June, and even if Mr. Tokuno was invited to the Prime Minister’s Residence on either of those days, the meeting would have lasted only 20 minutes. It would be difficult to imagine that a close and deep relationship could develop in just 20 minutes. Furthermore, Mr. Tokuno himself has stated that he was not invited to the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Amidst the proliferation of such rumors, former Prime Minister Abe met his tragic end. However, the erroneous information and its sources have remained unchanged and uncorrected, frequently causing a sensation whenever these rumors are associated with the Unification Church. In reality, there should be a stern call for, “Enough!”
However, there doesn’t seem to be any such consideration concerning the Unification Church issue, and it appears to be continuing just like before. Of course, as someone who upholds an orthodox Christian doctrine, I have been observing the Unification Church from an anti-position. However, the current situation is drastically different from what I know, and it has left me astonished.
There have been situations in the past where the public outcry led the government to take action, and this is not something new. However, this time, it involves a “religious” issue. In the cases of the Recruit scandal [insider trading and corruption scandal] and the Moritomo Gakuen [Japanese private school operator] issue, when time passed, and the public forgot, the only thing that remained was the media frenzy when the lid was finally lifted.
However, this time, it is not permitted. In terms of the gravity of the matter, this should be completely different from the past matters where the government was involved and influenced by the sensation caused by media. The level of significance is distinct between the government initiating the dissolution of a religious corporation, and a private organization requesting a dissolution. This is the first religious persecution in the post-war history, and it could also severely undermine the system under the constitution.
Featured image above: Haruhisa Nakagawa, Tokyo Christian Theological Institute Executive Secretary, President of Japan Christian Theological Institute. Photo: Haruhisa Nakagawa. Published with permission.
“Deliberate Lies Caused Abe Assassination” – text: Haruhisa Nakagawa
See also: Lawyers Manipulating, Coercing, Lying
See also Pure Activism in Japanese Media
See also Heavily Biased Japanese Reporting