Meeting of LDP legislators, Unification Church-related figures held before July election

Speaker of the House Hiroyuki Hosoda, center, former Environment Secretary Yoshiaki Harada, left, and members of the Liberal Democratic Party of Parliament and Masayoshi Kajikuri, right, who heads groups associated with the Unification Church, are seen in this photo, which recorded at a caucus meeting at the House Office Building in June 2021. (Photo provided by Eito Suzuki)

TOKYO – In June this year, a caucus meeting of ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers and Unification Church figures was held at Japan’s National Council, and participants were given questionnaires asking if they felt the religious group’s support for the July 2022 House of Councilors solicit election, it has been learned.

When the LDP asked their state legislators about their ties to the Unification Church, now officially called the Family League for World Peace and Unification, only two responded that it had given them “institutional support and the mobilization of people and materials.” The latest revelation, however, suggests ingrained electoral support. A senior official of the LDP church faction told the Mainichi Shimbun that “it has already disbanded”.

The caucus meeting was held on June 13 in the office building of the first members of the House of Representatives. According to the participants and the material distributed that day, Masayoshi Kajikuri gave a lecture entitled “The situation of parliamentary associations in the world”. Kajikuri is a caucus advisor who also directs the Federation for World Peace and the political organization International Federation for Victory over Communism, both affiliated with the Unification Church. Background material on the caucus formation and other information was presented, and Kajikuri apparently delivered a speech to the effect that “many parliamentary associations close to the Unification Church exist worldwide and Japan is lagging behind.”

A questionnaire distributed during a caucus meeting of lawmakers and Unification Church-affiliated parties in the state legislature June 13, 2022 is seen in this September 15, 2022 photo taken in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Kenji Ikai)

According to the program of the meeting, the topic then shifted to the forthcoming upper house election. A questionnaire distributed at the meeting read: “Please write here if there are any lawmakers seeking assistance from the Federation for World Peace for local constituencies in the next House of Councilors election.” A caucus attendee told the Mainichi Shimbun he remembers thinking when he received the poll, “What can you do with less than a month to go before the election?”

A proposal on caucus leaders circulated at the general assembly included the names of a total of 30 current and former LDP faction MPs, led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, LDP Vice President Taro Aso, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and others. The office of then-House of Councilors member Yoshifumi Miyajima, who is said to have had Abe’s help in winning his first House of Lords seat in 2016, was listed as the contact point for caucus deals.

The Mainichi Shimbun asked Kajikuri to comment on his attendance at the caucus and the content of his speech, but received no response as of press time.

The program of a caucus meeting of lawmakers and Unification Church-affiliated parties held in the state legislature on June 13, 2022 is seen in this September 15, 2022 photo taken in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. (Mainichi/Kenji Ikai)

The first general assembly of the parliamentary group took place on June 11, 2021. Former Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada, who belonged to the Aso faction and served as the faction’s leader, posted a Facebook comment that read: “We have Hiroyuki Hosoda of the Hosoda faction (now the Abe faction) as honorary leader and can participate confidently in activities. The association will start with a total membership of 100 lawmakers. A photograph taken at the time and made available to journalist Eito Suzuki shows about 20 lawmakers surrounding Speakers of the House Hosoda, Kajikuri and Harada and posing with their fists raised.

A person close to an MP who joined the caucus told Mainichi, “They were bugged by a Unification Church representative and were reluctant to attend.” Another person claimed she was invited by parties aligned with her Home territory related. One person who attended the caucus emphasized, “The Unification Church has few adherents and I never had any hope of getting votes through them.”

Shinsuke Okuno, a member of the LDP’s lower house, who belongs to the Abe faction and was the acting chairman of the caucus during last June’s General Assembly, told the Mainichi on September 15: “The caucus has already dissolved. I am not involved in the Unification Church”.

(Japanese original by Itsuo Tokubo and Soon Lee, Political News Department)

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