No Honors & State Funeral For War Monger & Denialist
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Monday, September 26, 2022 12:00 Noon
San Francisco Japanese Consulate
275 Battery St/California St., SF
The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister has exposed the relationship of him and the Liberal Democratic Party to the Moonies. His assassination by a family member of the Moonies who had been fleeced by this rightwing religious cult based in Korea has also exposed the pro-war agenda of Abe and LDP government which is also the ideology of the Moonies.
Abe and the LDP have supported the militarization of Japan and US military bases in Okinawa and continue to push for US military presence in Japan and Okinawa including with nuclear weapons. The Abe government in its drive for war has also spent $500 million to stop memorials for the Comfort Women in San Francisco and around the world. The Comfort Women were women in Asian who were enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army for sexual exploitation during the war.
This denialism is also connected to the efforts of Abe and the LDP to cover-up the Fukushima nuclear disaster and claim that it has been “decontaminated” which is a lie. The LDP also plans to release 1.3 million tons of radioactive water with tritium into the Pacific Ocean
Join with us the day before the Japanese government funeral for Abe on September 27th.
No State Funeral For Abe
Stop War Drive By Japan
Defend The Constitution Against Militarization
No Release of Radioactive Water From Fukushima Into the Pacific US Bases Out Of Okinawa
Stop Denialism, Tell The Real Truth and History of The 2nd WW
Initial Endorser: No Nukes Action (nonukesaction.wordpress.com) Eclipse Rising, Comfort Women Justice Coalition
United Front Committee for Labor Party
For further info: info(at)ufclp.org
Japan LDP denials over ties to church ring hollow for lawyers group
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
August 31, 2022 at 19:12 JST
Koichi Hagiuda, policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, talks to reporters about his relationship with the Unification Church in Tokyo on Aug. 18. (Koichi Ueda)
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida apologized for the relationships that have been exposed between ruling party lawmakers and the Unification Church, but many politicians continue to deny knowing anything about their ties to the religious group.
The Diet members’ connections to the Unification Church have often been formed through its affiliated groups, and lawmakers say they were unaware of the affiliation.
But that claim has been challenged by a group of lawyers as well as a former follower of the Unification Church.
The use of the many groups, the critics say, has given the politicians a convenient shield to obfuscate their relationship with the church.
Koichi Hagiuda, chairman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, visited a facility of the church before the July 10 Upper House election.
Hagiuda, however, said those in attendance were members of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. He insisted he was unaware the facility belongs to the church, which is now formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
Hagiuda also said he has paid fees to the Women’s Federation for World Peace on multiple occasions. “The name of the group is very similar to (the church’s) but I chose not to report it,” he said.
The Unification Church told The Asahi Shimbun that it has at least 24 related groups, including the Women’s Federation for World Peace.
They were all established by Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the church, and are each defined as “an organization that shares the same vision” with the church.
The word “peace” often appears in the name of the groups.
One of them, the Universal Peace Foundation, hosted an event in September 2021, to which former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a message.
The man suspected of murdering Abe in July this year has mentioned that speech and Abe’s ties to the Unification Church during questioning by investigators.
His mother’s large donations to the church that financially ruined his family are believed to have been behind his attack on Abe.
After the shooting, Tomihiro Tanaka, chairman of the Japanese arm of the church, told an Aug. 10 news conference that the related groups “deploy independent activities,” and that the purpose of these groups “is not to obtain new members (for the church) nor to collect funds.”
But the controversy over the donations and the church’s “spiritual sales” prompted Kishida to try to distance the party from the church.
“As the president of the LDP, I apologize without any reservation” over the church’s connections to party members, Kishida said at a news conference on Aug. 31.
He said he has instructed Toshimitsu Motegi, secretary-general of the LDP, to make “cutting ties with the group in question” a key principle of the party for full implementation among LDP lawmakers.
If the principle applies to affiliated groups of the church, the list of LDP lawmakers affected could be substantial.
The Federation for World Peace, for example, has supported Yoshifumi Miyajima, a former LDP Upper House member, in an election.
Daishiro Yamagiwa, the state minister for economic revitalization, participated in an event believed to have been hosted by the church-affiliated Ambassadors for Peace.
Some Diet members have paid fees to the International Federation for Victory over Communism.
A man in the Kanto region who was a Unification Church member up until a few years ago said he played an active role for the International Federation for Victory over Communism in the mid-2000s.
He said a senior official of the church told him through the Line messaging app, “There is a political event happening.” The man said he ended up handing out leaflets of a Diet member.
“The members of the church and its related groups overlap,” he said. “I was told not to give out the name of the church, but the politician involved knew I was a follower of the church.”
Representatives of each of these related groups told The Asahi Shimbun that they operate independently of the Unification Church.
Shinsuke Okuno, a Lower House member of the LDP who has paid fees to the Federation for World Peace, has followed the lines of the group’s explanation and denied ties to the Unification Church.
“It is the Federation for World Peace that I have a relationship with, not the former Unification Church,” he told The Asahi Shimbun.
When told that the group is related to the church, Okuno repeatedly said: “They are different groups with different leaders. Do some more research.”
The National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, an organization that has long criticized the Unification Church and helps former followers recoup their donations, has reacted to the politicians’ denials.
On Aug. 24, its website listed more than 70 groups that are tied to the church, including those confirmed by the church. The list also includes the names of events and publications that are connected to the church.
The politicians, the lawyers group said, can simply check the list to determine if a relationship exists.
Yasuo Kawai, a lawyer in the organization, said the list is based on information gathered from the publications and websites of the church and its related groups.
Some of the listed groups are now believed to be inactive, Kawai said.
“The church uses these related groups to make it difficult for people to see its identity and to achieve its goal of penetrating society and politics,” Kawai said. “It is possible that some politicians are using these groups to deny their ties with the church.”
Over 100 Japan lawmakers had links with Unification Church: survey
At least seven current Cabinet members, as well as 20 senior vice ministers and parliamentary vice ministers, have been confirmed to have links to the Unification Church. | POOL / VIA REUTERS
At least seven current Cabinet members, as well as 20 senior vice ministers and parliamentary vice ministers, have been confirmed to have links to the Unification Church. | POOL / VIA REUTERS
Aug 14, 2022
More than 100 of all the 712 lawmakers in Japan have had some connections with the controversial Unification Church, with nearly 80% of them belonging to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, a Kyodo News survey showed Saturday.
In the survey with a response rate of over 80%, 106 had links with the church such as attending events hosted by entities associated with the religious group, which has come under renewed attention following former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination last month, or receiving electoral cooperation from its members.
Lawmakers from the LDP, now headed by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, accounted for 82 of the total, highlighting close ties between the main ruling party and the church, founded in South Korea in the 1950s and identified as a cult by critics.
The church has drawn public scrutiny after Abe's alleged assailant said he had harbored a grudge against the group and believed that the former prime minister had ties to it.
The alleged gunman, Tetsuya Yamagami, was quoted by investigators as saying that his family was ruined after his mother made huge donations to the church, formally known now as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
Abe provided a video message for an event held by an organization associated with the church in September last year.
Tomoaki Iwai, a professor emeritus of political science at Nihon University, said the fact that about one-seventh of the country's lawmakers had ties with the group reveals that they have failed to apply adequate risk management practices.
"They lack the qualities of a politician," Iwai said.
The survey's results came as seven current Cabinet members, as well as 20 senior vice ministers and parliamentary vice ministers, have been confirmed to have links to the church, despite Kishida reshuffling his team Wednesday in an attempt to reverse flagging public support.
One of the biggest reasons for a sharp fall in approval ratings was LDP lawmakers' lack of explanation over their political ties with the church.
Only 12 of the 20 deputy ministers have admitted to having their relations with the organization in the survey, raising the possibility that the total number may increase, and the issue is almost certain to become a major point of debate in parliament when its extraordinary session begins in the fall.
An official at the Unification Church said it is not in a position to comment on the results of the survey.
The church is famous for its mass weddings. Its "spiritual sales," in which people are talked into buying jars and other items for exorbitant prices, have become a social problem in the past.
The survey asked whether lawmakers have received financial help from organizations linked to the church, such as getting donations or selling fundraising party tickets. It also asked if they got electoral cooperation and whether they had attended events related to the church or sent them congratulatory messages.
Of all the 712 lawmakers, 583 had responded as of Friday. Kishida did not reply to the questionnaire.
The LDP lawmakers who admitted their ties to the church include Nobuo Kishi, Abe's younger brother who served as defense minister before the Cabinet reshuffle, and Akira Amari, a veteran parliamentarian who was one of the closest allies of Abe.
The next largest number following the LDP were eleven from Nippon Ishin no Kai, a conservative opposition party.
The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan had seven lawmakers, while Komeito, a junior ruling coalition partner of the LDP, the Democratic Party for the People, and Sanseito each had one such member. The remaining three are independents.
Hakubun Shimomura, a former chairman of the LDP's Policy Research Council, and Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the Democratic Party for the People, admitted to having received donations in 2016 from Sekai Nippo, a newspaper affiliated with the church.
The number of lawmakers who sold fundraising party tickets to the church stood at 13, including former education minister Shinsuke Suematsu who raised a total of ¥80,000 ($600) between 2020 and 2021.
The survey also found 30 benefited from electoral support from the church-related bodies such as soliciting votes by phone. The number of those who attended events sponsored by them came to 71, while 43 said they had sent them messages.
Some of the lawmakers justified their actions, claiming the church is just one of many entities they have communicated with or that they took part in such events because they were asked by their supporters. Others, meanwhile, said they will review their ties with the group.
Japan LDP's constitutional draft, proposals by Unification Church-linked group bear similarities
August 9, 2022 (Mainichi Japan)
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holds a press conference the day after the House of Councillors election at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on July 11, 2022. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)
TOKYO -- Many similarities have been found in the constitutional revision plans of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and proposals by a political organization affiliated with the Unification Church -- a finding that has drawn attention.
In April 2017, the political group International Federation for Victory over Communism released an approximately 17-minute video titled "on constitutional amendments," in which Yoshio Watanabe, vice chairman of the group, explained his own reform proposals. The group is affiliated with the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
Watanabe listed the establishment of an emergency clause as the first priority for constitutional change. Using the example of a major earthquake, he explained that "the government's authority would be strengthened to protect lives by temporarily restricting property rights and tightly regulating food and fuel prices." In the May 2021 issue of "Sekai Shiso," a magazine affiliated with the political group, it is stated that the emergency clause covers "wars, disasters and so on."
Meanwhile, the draft compiled by the LDP in April 2012, when it was an opposition party, states that in the event of an armed attack from outside Japan, or in a civil war or large-scale disaster, the Cabinet would be able to enact an order with the same force as a law, and that "any person must obey" the instructions of the national government or public agencies in such a scenario. The direction of its proposal is consistent with that of the political group.
In the video, Watanabe also called for the addition of a clause on family protection as the second priority, stressing that "without this, same-sex marriage, which cannot result in a natural and fundamental unit, will spread." The LDP draft, meanwhile, states that "the family is to be respected as the natural and fundamental unit of society," using terminology consistent with that of the political group.
In his third proposal, Watanabe stated that "there is not a single word (in the Constitution) that can be used as a basis for why the Self-Defense Forces are allowed to exist," and insisted that a "self-defense military" or "national defense forces" be clearly stated in the Constitution. This, too, is practically in line with the LDP draft, which clearly calls for a "national defense forces."
The LDP's four-point amendment draft compiled in March 2018 suggested adding an emergency clause that would temporarily strengthen the Cabinet's authority and allow for a special extension of the term of office of Diet members in the event of "a major earthquake or other extraordinary, large-scale disaster," in addition to adding the Self-Defense Forces to Article 9.
Opposition lawmakers from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Japanese Communist Party have voiced criticism, saying, "The nationalism that emphasizes the public interest and the state over the individual is common to the constitutional amendment proposals of both the LDP and the Unification Church."
On the other hand, Yosuke Isozaki, a former upper house member who was involved in the preparation of the 2012 LDP draft, said, "No outside groups such as the Unification Church expressed any opinions or requests at the time. If someone were to claim that the Unification Church had an influence on the draft, it would be a false accusation."
In the July 10 upper house election, the four parties in favor of constitutional revision -- the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito, the conservative opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) and the Democratic Party for the People -- won a combined 93 seats, and together with uncontested seats, they secured more than two-thirds of the seats in the upper chamber required for constitutional amendments to be proposed.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said after the election that he would like to lead the debate in the Diet to realize constitutional reform. However, conservative members of the LDP have some opinions in common with the Unification Church, which is anti-communist, and many of them have ties with the group, especially those in the Abe faction, previously led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was fatally shot in July. With public opinion being harsh regarding this fact, it is unclear whether the LDP will be able to take the lead in the debate.
A person close to Komeito pointed out, "The Abe faction, which had been the most aggressive in pushing for constitutional revision, may find it difficult to move for the time being because the Unification Church issue has come to light."
The person also indicated that the constitutional debate will be pushed back for some time due to the similarities between the draft of the LDP and the Unification Church group's proposal.
(Japanese original by Akiko Kato and Kenta Miyahara, Political News Department)
Japan Moritomo Gakuen scandal another history Japan’s nationalists may wish to rewrite and deregulaton of education
BY ERIC JOHNSTON
MAR 26, 2017
OSAKA – It began as a dream. Conservatives and nationalists, angry at what they saw as a public education system that taught a self-denigrating, incorrect view of Japan’s 20th century history and upset at social changes they felt had led to a loss of respect among children for Japan’s traditional values and norms, would create a private elementary school in Osaka tailored to their beliefs.
Now, however, the opening of educational entity Moritomo Gakuen’s new Mizuho no Kuni elementary school (almost named Shinzo Abe Elementary School), scheduled for April 1, has been postponed indefinitely.
It was revealed in February that the government land purchased for the school had been heavily discounted in a shady deal. That scandal led to revelations of Moritomo Gakuen’s links to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s wife, Akie, and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, as well as to allegations so far unproven beyond a reasonable doubt by the entity’s chief Yasunori Kagoike that the new school received, via Akie Abe, a ¥1 million donation from the prime minister himself.
Kagoike gave sworn Diet testimony last week, where he repeated his assertions about Akie Abe, suggested Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui betrayed him by blocking approval of his new school, and said that three Osaka-based Diet members were involved. This has raised the stakes and national media attention, ensuring the scandal won’t go away.
As forceful as Kagoike’s allegations have been, the denials from those named as of late last week have been equally forceful.
After saying she could not remember, Akie posted a strong denial on social media that she’d handed over ¥1 million. Same with the three politicians named by Kagoike.
Nippon Ishin’s Toru Azuma of the Upper House denied doing anything on Kagoike’s behalf. Fellow councilor Takuji Yanagimoto of the Liberal Democratic Party said his office did little more than provide an introduction to officials over the phone. Former LDP lawmaker Issei Kitagawa said he’d never met Kagoike or even heard of him until the scandal broke.
In Osaka, attention has shifted to what Osaka Gov. Matsui, a close Abe ally despite heading the nominal opposition party Nippon Ishin no Kai, knew about the land deal and when he knew it. This has raised still unanswered questions about what the political and financial relationship other conservative groups and individuals might have had with Abe, Matsui and Moritomo Gakuen.
The scandal also has Osaka prefectural officials in charge of private school applications and central government officials at the Kinki Regional Finance Bureau blaming each other over who is responsible for selling Moritomo a hunk of land valued at ¥956 million for only ¥134 million. Earlier this month, a delegation of ruling bloc and opposition Diet members visited Osaka to try to determine how the deal came about but were told the prefecture had not kept detailed records.
What they did learn was that in summer 2011, the entity had asked the Osaka Prefectural Government to relax the restrictions on setting up private schools. The request was granted in April 2012, just a few months after Toru Hashimoto stepped down as governor and became Osaka mayor, and his ally, Matsui, became governor.
In September 2013, Moritomo told the Kinki Regional Finance Bureau, part of the Finance Ministry, that it was interested in acquiring government-owned property in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for its new elementary school. Negotiations began, with the finance bureau indicating Moritomo could reply about its interest if the project was approved. The prefecture, however, said that without land and a building, approval to operate could not be granted.
That October, the prefecture phoned the finance bureau to ask about progress and was told the bureau was relying on Moritomo to provide detailed documentation of its plans. A month later, the bureau said it told the prefecture that, once a final decision about the project was made, it would reply about whether it would negotiate the land deal.
Afterward, there was a long waiting period and the details are not clear. In October 2014, Moritomo submitted an application to have the elementary school approved by the prefecture. In December, the prefecture told Moritomo it was still discussing the matter. But in January 2015, the private-school section replied that authorization was considered “appropriate.”
In May 2015, a 10-year rental lease for the property was drawn up. But the following month, after deducting ¥800 million as the cost of removing garbage on the site, Moritomo was able to buy land originally valued at ¥956 million for only ¥134 million.
But official records of the negotiating process, especially from 2013 to 2014, do not exist, prefectural officials told the Diet delegation. The chronology they were presented with was based on interviews with officials who were in charge at the time.
“Notes were not taken and negotiations were done over the telephone. Preparing documents (of the negotiations) would leave a huge volume of paperwork,” Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui said.
The governor denied any suggestion he intervened with prefectural officials on Moritomo’s behalf.
“If I ordered preferential treatment to be given to Moritomo, I’ll resign,” Matsui said.
For his part, former Osaka Mayor and Ishin co-founder Hashimoto, who had been governor in 2011 when the entity originally asked for the rules regarding new private schools to be relaxed, blamed his lack of attention to the details of deregulation for the problem.
“It was my mistake. When I was governor, I had to make deregulation of private school regulations and the strengthening of the system of prefectural checks for private school applications part of a set. There were voices of concern about Moritomo’s finances. The prefecture appeared to confirm they were OK and this led to approval with certain conditions. But the origin of the problem is that my efforts to strengthen the prefecture’s system of checking on private school applications was insufficient,” Hashimoto said on his Twitter account and on television last week.
The mea culpa did little, however, to negate suspicion that the good deal Moritomo received had something to do with gubernatorial successor Matsui’s cozy relations with Abe. Both men share similar views on perceptions of history and education.
As do many of the groups in Osaka that support Nippon Ishin. One that has come under the spotlight is the conservative Japan Conference (Nippon Kaigi), which also advocates nationalist causes.
In a statement earlier this month, the group said Kagoike had once been a member but left in 2011. In an online interview published last week in Shukan Asahi, Japan Conference Chairman Tadae Takubo said his organization had no connection with Kagoike.
But Hashimoto said that while everybody who once supported, directly or indirectly, Moritomo and Kagoike may now be reluctant to admit it, the school’s nationalist educational philosophy enjoys a lot of support among prominent people.
“I wouldn’t make my own kids recite the Meiji Imperial Rescript on Education like Moritomo was doing. But from what I’ve seen and heard, the school taught respect and courtesy. Without a doubt, a lot of politicians, including within the LDP and even Nippon Ishin, supported the school’s educational philosophy. Therefore, a lot of prefectural officials took notice,” Hashimoto said.
Kansai Perspective appears on the fourth Monday of each month, focusing on Kansai-area developments and events of national importance with a Kansai connection.
Japan’s Leader Hurt by New Disclosures Over Ties to Right-Wing Education Group
By JONATHAN SOBLE
MARCH 16, 2017
Yasunori Kagoike, the administrator of Moritomo Gakuen, spoke to the media in Osaka prefecture, Japan, last week. CreditKyodo, via Reuters
TOKYO — The leader of a scandal-tainted Japanese education group known for extreme right-wing views said Thursday that Prime Minister Shinzo Abehad donated money to it in 2015, a claim that directly contradicted accounts by Mr. Abe.
The assertion, if true, has the potential to inflict significant political damage on Mr. Abe. The group’s leader, Yasunori Kagoike, did not immediately offer evidence to back up his claim.
Accusations that Mr. Kagoike received improper financial favors from the government have escalated into a scandal that has dominated headlines in Japan and hurt Mr. Abe’s approval ratings.
Network news crews followed a group of parliamentarians to Mr. Kagoike’s home in Osaka in Thursday, broadcasting live as the lawmakers waited to question him.
Mr. Kagoike’s extreme views have become a contentious issue in Japan, partly because of his links to prominent political figures. A kindergarten operated by his group seeks to promote “patriotism and pride” by reviving elements of Japan’s militaristic prewar education system. He has been accused of making derogatory statements about Chinese and Koreans.
His political connections took on a newly troubling dimension after it emerged last month that officials had allowed Mr. Kagoike’ group, Moritomo Gakuen, to buy government-owned land at a discount. The land was to be used for an elementary school, for which Moritomo Gakuen has been soliciting funds and drawing encouragement from the right.
Mr. Abe’s wife, Akie, has been a prominent supporter, serving until recently as “honorary principal” of the planned school. She resigned the position last month amid the escalating furor.
But Mr. Abe has denied that he had direct personal links to the group.
“He did not donate money, or donate through Akie or his office or any third party,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government spokesman, said on Thursday after Mr. Kagoike made his assertion.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday. Accusations that Mr. Kagoike received improper financial favors from the government have mushroomed into a scandal that has dominated headlines in Japan and dragged down Mr. Abe’s approval ratings. CreditToru Hanai/Reuters
Previously Mr. Abe had said he would quit politics if he or his wife were found to have influenced official dealings with Moritomo Gakuen.
Atsuo Ito, a political analyst, said that while a donation by Mr. Abe of his own money would have been legal, it would be “an ethical problem” for him, because “it could mean his statements until now have been lies, which would be a big incident that would shake the government.”
Mr. Kagoike said he recalled having receiving donations in September 2015 “including money donated by Abe.”
He did not elaborate but said he would provide more information to Parliament. Mr. Abe’s party, the Liberal Democrats, had resisted opposition demands to call Mr. Kagoike to testify, but relented on Thursday after Mr. Kagoike’s remarks, according to NHK, the national broadcaster. Mr. Kagoike will testify on March 23, NHK said.
In Mr. Kagoike’s meeting with the lawmakers in Osaka on Thursday, he elaborated somewhat, members of the parliamentary group said afterward. Mr. Kagoike told them he had received 1 million yen from Mrs. Abe when she gave a speech at the kindergarten in September 2015, they said. The lawmakers also quoted him as saying he believed some of the money had come from the prime minister.
Mr. Abe’s defense minister, Tomomi Inada, has also been embroiled in the scandal. A former lawyer, she helped defend Moritomo Gakuen in a lawsuit in 2004, but under questioning in Parliament she initially denied working for the group. She retracted that statement this week and apologized, saying she had forgotten, but opposition parties have demanded that she resign.
Officials in Osaka prefecture said this week they were considering filing a criminal complaint against Moritomo Gakuen over irregularities in the school’s licensing application.
In early publicity materials for the new school, Mr. Kagoike proposed naming it after Mr. Abe, a champion of conservative causes who has driven changes to Japan’s school system, including revisions in history textbooks to soften depictions of Japan’s wartime atrocities in its former Asian empire.
The Finance Ministry allowed Moritomo Gakuen to acquire the land — a two-acre vacant lot near an airport in an Osaka suburb — for 134 million yen, or about $1.17 million, one-seventh its assessed value. Additional subsides for clearing landfill reduced Moritomo’s outlay to next to nothing.
Makiko Inoue contributed reporting.
Reactionary Corrupt Japan PM Abe denies allegations in scandal-hit school chief's sworn testimony
Abe denies allegations in scandal-hit school chief's sworn testimony
March 24, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)
Akie Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is pictured on March 22, 2016. (Mainichi)
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied Friday that he or his wife Akie gave money or favorable treatment to an Osaka school operator at the center of a growing political scandal as alleged the previous day by the chief of the organization in sworn testimony before the Diet.
Opposition lawmakers argued that further investigation is needed into whether a government aide to Akie Abe was involved in the sale of a heavily discounted piece of state-owned land last year to the school operator, Moritomo Gakuen, which recently dropped its plan to open an elementary school on the site.
Yasunori Kagoike, head of Moritomo Gakuen, had produced under oath in the upper and lower house budget committees Thursday a document purporting to show that Akie Abe's aide, Saeko Tani, made inquiries to the Finance Ministry about the plot of land in 2015 at his behest.
Kagoike also repeated his claim that Akie Abe gave him a donation of 1 million yen ($8,900) on the prime minister's behalf for the purposes of building the elementary school.
Diet affairs chiefs from the Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party, Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party agreed Friday to seek the summoning of Akie Abe and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui as further sworn witnesses.
But this would require the agreement of ruling coalition lawmakers, something the Abe administration's top spokesman seemed to dismiss Friday.
"The prime minister is explaining (the situation) carefully," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference when asked about the oppositions' plan.
Standing in the same room where Kagoike gave part of his testimony Thursday, Abe maintained on Friday that the content of the testimony had "made clear that there was no specific involvement by politicians in the sale of the state land or the accreditation of the elementary school."
The prime minister's office admitted Thursday that Tani had contacted the Finance Ministry for Kagoike about the plot of land in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, which Moritomo Gakuen was leasing from the state at the time.
"The inquiry was asking what would happen (to the land lease) institutionally and legally, and there was no request, lobbying or of course any inappropriate press," Abe insisted at a session of the upper house budget committee Friday.
"It's extremely regrettable that (Kagoike) has made statements that go against the truth by reeling off a bunch of things that cannot be verified, such as the 1 million yen issue and talk of backroom dealings," he said.
Abe continued to insist Friday that neither he nor his wife had any involvement in subsequent negotiations that ended with the stridently nationalist school operator buying the government land for 134 million yen -- just 14 percent of its appraised value.
The price was lowered supposedly to account for the costs of removing buried garbage, but the murky deal, the school's unusual acquisition of provisional accreditation from Osaka Prefecture, and past links between Kagoike and the Abes have fueled public scrutiny of the matter and eroded approval ratings for the Abe Cabinet.
Akie Abe refuted Kagoike's testimony, including the donation claim, in a post on her personal Facebook page Thursday night.
The prime minister's wife has documented links with Kagoike.
She was until recently named the honorary principal of the planned elementary school, and gave speeches at a Moritomo Gakuen kindergarten that was probed for suspected hate speech after parents of pupils were given pamphlets denigrating Chinese and Koreans.
Kagoike testified Thursday that a recent exchange of emails with Akie Abe via his wife, Junko Kagoike, could be interpreted as an attempt to silence him. The prime minister on Friday called this claim "malicious."
Abe also expressed disappointment that Kagoike had not explained why the school gave three different amounts for construction costs on contracts it submitted to prefectural authorities and others.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Friday played down her connection with Kagoike and also denied any involvement of her husband, who had been hired by Moritomo Gakuen as a lawyer, in the land purchase deal.
"I may have met Mr. Kagoike when he came to meet my husband at (our) office, but, anyway, we're talking about something more than 10 years before -- before I lost access with Mr. Kagoike," she said in a statement released Friday.
Kagoike testified the day prior that Inada was among the lawyers who dealt with him at the office when her husband signed a contract to become a legal adviser for the school operator.
Inada reiterated that she has never been a legal adviser for Moritomo Gakuen and it was only her husband Ryuji Inada who had performed the role. Even the contract between her husband and the school operator ended around August 2009, she said.
Kagoike insisted Thursday that he sought advice from Ryuji Inada in January 2016 about the land, but Inada said her husband has denied being asked for consultations over the deal.
Inada initially denied her links to the operator but admitted last week that she represented Moritomo Gakuen as a lawyer at a civil case hearing in December 2004 before she became a lawmaker.
Ex-chief of Japanese scandal-hit nationalist school operator quizzed over illegal subsidy fraud
Ex-chief of scandal-hit school operator quizzed over subsidy fraud
July 28, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)
Yasunori Kagoike (Mainichi)
Junko Kagoike (Mainichi)
OSAKA (Kyodo) -- Prosecutors questioned the former chief of a scandal-mired nationalist school operator and his wife on Thursday in connection with the alleged receipt of fraudulent public subsidies for their businesses.
The criminal investigation into Yasunori Kagoike, 64, former chief of Moritomo Gakuen, and his wife Junko, 60, who served as a senior official of schools run by the operator, followed a controversial sale of public land that embroiled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose wife Akie was named honorary principal of the school planned for the site.
After the questioning at the Osaka District Public Prosecutors Office, which lasted around three hours, the Kagoikes declined to make any comment to reporters and hastily left for home.
Later Thursday, Kagoike told reporters that he "remained mostly silent" during the questioning.
Kagoike drew attention for securing a huge discount for the purchase of the state-owned land in Osaka for the construction of an elementary school. Akie Abe was named honorary principal of the planned school but resigned after the deal was revealed.
The office's special investigation squad brought the couple in on Thursday after it received a complaint in March that the school operator unlawfully received state subsidies worth about 56 million yen ($505,000) related to the construction of the elementary school in the city of Toyonaka.
The school was scheduled to open in April, but Moritomo Gakuen gave up following the scandal and Kagoike stepped down as head of the school operator in March.
Kagoike also faces another criminal complaint filed in May that he swindled around 62 million yen in subsidies between fiscal 2011 and 2016 from Osaka Prefecture for a kindergarten in the city of Osaka. In June, the prosecutors raided sites linked with Moritomo Gakuen.
In applying for state subsidies for the elementary school construction, Moritomo Gakuen submitted a document showing building costs totaled around 2.38 billion yen. But the operator is suspected of having padded the costs to obtain increased subsidies, investigative sources said.
The office also intends to build cases over the two allegations, believing that Kagoike initiated the actions, according to the sources.
The Osaka prefectural government has also said the school operator illegally received the subsidies for its Tsukamoto kindergarten by making false reports about teachers' working conditions and pupils requiring special assistance due to disabilities and other reasons.
Regarding the controversial land deal, Moritomo Gakuen was found to have acquired the 8,770-square-meter plot in June last year for 134 million yen, roughly 14 percent of its appraisal value, following negotiations with the Finance Ministry's local bureau.
The prosecutors have accepted a criminal complaint against senior officials of the ministry's Kinki bureau for breach of trust over the land deal, which came to light in February.
Meanwhile, the mother of a former pupil at Tsukamoto kindergarten has lodged a damages suit against Kagoike, seeking about 1.65 million yen for mental anguish. The plaintiff claims her child was forced out of the kindergarten after she refused to join the school's parent-teacher association.
During the first in-person pleading at the Osaka District Court on Thursday, Kagoike's representative demanded the suit be dropped, saying, "Participation in the PTA was not mandatory and the school did not tell the pupil to leave."
According to the suit, the mother refused to join the PTA as long as details of its financial reports remained undisclosed. In April 2016, when Kagoike headed the facility, she was notified that her child should leave the kindergarten because her participation in the association was compulsory.
-Japan PM Kishida denies Unification Church ties after magazine report
By KEISHI NISHIMURA/ Staff Writer
August 24, 2022 at 18:53 JST
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida takes questions online from reporters on Aug. 24. (Koichi Ueda)
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Aug. 24 again denied having any relations with the Unification Church after a weekly magazine reported that one of his key supporters did.
“As I have said before, to the best of my knowledge, I myself do not have a connection to the former Unification Church,” Kishida, who has tested positive for COVID-19, told reporters in an online news conference.
An online article the Shukan Bunshun published the previous day said Mineo Nakayama, president of Sojo University in Kumamoto, used to head an organization that promoted a “Japan-Korean undersea tunnel” project with ties to the Unification Church.
Nakayama currently chairs Kishida’s support group in Kumamoto Prefecture.
Kishida said Nakayama was unaware that the organization was involved with the Unification Church, now formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
“I heard that (Nakayama) already quit (the organization),” Kishida said.
The magazine also reported that Kishida contributed an article to a newsletter published by an educational group that is also related to the church.
Kishida said he submitted the article because the chair of the educational group was his supporter.
“The chairperson has declared that the (educational group) is not related to the former Unification Church,” Kishida said.
In addition, Shukan Bunshun reported that politicians and others based in Kishida’s constituency of Hiroshima Prefecture have connections to the Unification Church.
Kishida said about the report, “I am not in a position to know their every activity.”
He said the magazine’s report about other people in the prefecture “was something I don’t know anything about.”
Lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have been distancing themselves from the Unification Church ever since its donation-collection activities came under scrutiny again following the shooting death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July.
Kishida said he will step up LDP efforts to establish an effective system to review members’ ties with the group.
But he declined to provide details of the enhanced efforts.
Nakayama held a news conference at the university on Aug. 24 and said he had no idea that the tunnel-project organization was related to the church.
He said he took the chairman’s post at the organization in 2011, when it was established, because he was asked to do so by a former Kumamoto city assembly member.
Nakayama on Aug. 23 submitted his resignation from the position after reading the magazine’s report, he said.
He has been chairman of Kumamoto Kishida-kai, a group that supports the prime minister, since its inception in 2020.
The group solicited votes for Kishida from local LDP members when he ran in and won the party’s presidential election in September 2021.
Kishida received 6,109 votes in Kumamoto Prefecture, the most of any candidate, in the election.
Nakayama said he did not ask people related to the tunnel project to help Kishida in the presidential race.
“I understand that the former Unification Church had no influence in garnering votes,” Nakayama said.
He also said the magazine report gives the impression that Kishida has ties to the church.
“I feel sorry for that,” Nakayama said.
The project to build a more than 200-kilometer-long undersea tunnel connecting northern Kyushu and southern South Korea was proposed by Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, in 1981.
Japan Agency oversight of Unification Church halted after ’09 lawsuit
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
August 23, 2022 at 18:34 JST
This building in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward houses the offices of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, more widely known as the Unification Church. (Eishi Kado)
The Agency for Cultural Affairs, after learning about dodgy donation-collection practices at the Unification Church, held at least nine interviews with the group over 11 years from 1998, documents obtained by The Asahi Shimbun showed.
At these meetings, the agency instructed the Unification Church to conduct “adequate management and administration.”
But these interviews stopped in 2009 when a former follower of the group sued both the church and the government.
The agency acknowledged on Aug. 22 that the halt in interviews weakened its oversight of the group.
Its previous objections to the church’s plan to change its name also disappeared after the lawsuit was filed.
The agency in 2015 gave the green light to the new name, the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), despite complaints from a lawyers group and other concerned parties that the organization was trying to conceal its notoriety.
Kihei Maekawa, who headed the agency’s Religious Affairs Division, had told public gatherings that he informed the Unification Church in 1997 that the agency would reject its application for the name change to the FFWPU.
Maekawa said the church’s so-called spiritual sales that involved pressing followers and lay people to buy items, such as pots, at exorbitant prices was widely recognized as a social problem over many years.
He said he also believed at that time that the name change could “cover up the true nature (of the church).”
The concern was that many people would not recognize the FFWPU as the Unification Church. The FFWPU could gain new followers and continue its spiritual sales and pressure for large donations.
It was those practices that prompted the agency to interview the church on a voluntary basis between January 1998 and April 2009, according to the documents and other sources.
The agency conducted those sessions because “damages have been reported from (the Unification Church’s) missionary activities, spiritual sales, coercion for donations and commitments.”
The agency said in the document that it “has been aware of such issues since they were first brought to public attention.”
It also said the agency “needed to make some response to the Unification Church within the range acceptable under the Constitution and the Religious Corporations Law.”
The agency said it instructed the church to exercise “adequate management and administration” and “sincerely respond to individual cases,” based on a 1997 Supreme Court ruling that found the church liable for financial damages that it caused with its practices.
Such oversight of the group ended after a former follower brought a lawsuit against the church in 2009 and demanded the return of donations.
The plaintiff also sued the state, arguing that the government allowed the church to continue with its activities despite the many allegations brought against the group.
The Asahi Shimbun obtained copies of documents submitted to a court by the state side in the lawsuit.
Maekawa later became the highest-ranked bureaucrat at the education ministry, which has oversight of the Agency of Cultural Affairs.
The agency accepted the application for the name change in 2015.
Many lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party with ties to organizations linked to the church said they didn’t know about the affiliation to the Unification Church.
An official who now heads the agency’s Regional Affairs Division told The Asahi Shimbun on Aug. 22 that “the agency back then may have thought having contact with the church when they were both sued in the same lawsuit could lead to unnecessary misunderstandings.”
The official acknowledged that the suspension of interviews could have weakened the agency’s watch for the church.
But the official said the name change and the suspension of interviews are “separate issues.”
The official added that it is not clear if the agency has resumed interviews with the church from 2017, when another church-related lawsuit brought against the state was settled.
Hiroshi Segi, a former judge and professor of the law of civil procedure at Meiji University, raised doubts about the agency’s approach.
“Generally speaking, the agency should make a distinction between interviews it conducts as a government agency and its exercise of restraint as a party involved in a lawsuit,” he said.
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