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1 / 2 of Japan governing lawmakers linked with Unification Church

TOKYO (AP) Japans governing party said Thursday an internal survey discovered that nearly 1 / 2 of its national lawmakers had ties to the Unification Church, in a widening controversy that emerged following the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe was shot to death throughout a campaign speech in the western city of Nara in July. The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, reportedly told police he killed Abe due to his apparent connect to the Unification Church. A letter and social media marketing postings related to him said large donations by his mother to the church bankrupted his family and ruined his life.

That resulted in revelations of widespread ties between your governing Liberal Democratic Party and the South Korea-based church, which experts say urges Japanese followers to create large donations to create amends for his or her ancestral sins, including Japans past colonialization of the Korean Peninsula.

LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi said in the survey, 179 of the 379 party parliamentarians reported links to the church and related organizations. The relationships ranged from attending church events to accepting donations and receiving election support. However, Motegi denied there have been any ties between your conservative governing party being an organization and the church.

I take the outcomes of the party survey seriously, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. Later on, the party will sever ties to organizations with known social problems and ensure it is a celebration policy, so we wont invite suspicion from the general public.

The Unification Church has been accused of inappropriate recruitment and business tactics and of pressuring adherents to create large donations, that your church denies.

Ninety-six of the LDP lawmakers reported attending events organized by the church or its affiliates, while 20 said that they had made speeches. Nearly 50 said they paid money at events, while 29 accepted donations. Abes younger brother, former Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, and former Economy and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda were among 17 who accepted church followers as election campaign volunteers.

Abe, a conservative nationalist who was simply among Japans most influential politicians, recorded a video message this past year for the Universal Peace Federation, a church-affiliated group, where he praised federation co-founder Hak Ja Han Moon, who also heads the Unification Church, on her behalf efforts to advertise traditional family values.

Opposition lawmakers criticized the survey for having excluded Abe because he could be deceased. The survey also didn’t include LDP lawmakers in local assemblies, where church followers may also be active in influencing policies, critics say.

The Unification Church was founded in South Korea in 1954 and found Japan ten years later. It has generated close ties with LDP lawmakers over shared interests in conservative causes, including opposing Communism. Abes grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped found the churchs political unit in Tokyo in 1968.

Kishida, despite a Cabinet shuffle in August where he purged seven ministers with acknowledged church links, including Kishi, were left with more in his new Cabinet.

Support for Kishidas government has tumbled in recent media surveys, apparently due to party members church links and plans for a rare state funeral for Abe.

A family group funeral for Abe happened in July at a Tokyo temple, but Kishida really wants to hold circumstances funeral on Sept. 27 at the Budokan fighting techinques arena with about 6,000 invited guests. The only real other state funeral for a former prime minister in recent decades was for Shigeru Yoshida in 1967. It had been criticized as having been decided undemocratically and an inappropriate usage of taxpayers money.

Critics say Kishidas decision to carry circumstances funeral for Abe can be an try to please lawmakers owned by Abes former faction within the governing party to keep party unity and buttress Kishidas own grip on power. He’s got said Abe deserves circumstances funeral because the longest-serving post-World War II leader and for his diplomatic and economic achievements.

Kishidas government initially put the funeral cost at 250 million yen ($1.7 million) but recently said it should take at the very least 1.4 billion yen ($9.7 million) more for security, transportation and hospitality for foreign dignitaries along with other guests. Some say the price could further increase.

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