The former Prime Minister was assassinated because false information was circulating about him.
by Haruhisa Nakagawa*
*Note: We are translating, with permission from the author, an article published September 22 in the Christian web magazine SALTY by a well-known Japanese theologian, executive secretary of the Tokyo Institute of Christian Theology and president of the Japan Institute of Christian Theology. He is also a historical opponent of the Unification Church.
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The Japanese government reportedly submitted to the court in October a request to dissolve the Unification Church as a religious corporation. I have observed this organization critically for twenty-five years and have written several articles about it. However, what constantly strikes me about all of this is the gap between public perception and the actual situation. Initially, individuals like Yoshio Arita, Eight Suzuki, and Professor Kimiaki Nishida, close to (anti-Unification Church) lawyer Masaki Kito, appeared on television and discussed this issue. It seemed to me that only one of the groups fighting over the issue was presenting its own opinions, and I expected that positions from different angles would eventually emerge. However, it appears there was no sign of slowing down and the conversation quickly moved in one direction before anyone could stop it.
I was able to understand the intention of the National Network of Lawyers Against Spirit Sales (NNLSS) to influence public opinion and push the government to file for dissolution. However, there should generally be debates involving both sides and opposing viewpoints, with room for adjustments and direction corrections. In this case, the information circulating in the media seems to place excessive emphasis on a single perspective. To me it seems like one group’s opinion dominates the entire discourse.
In the words of theologian Hans Küng, who participated as an expert at the Second Vatican Council: “A half-truth is also a half-lie.” Particularly in matters of religion, we must not allow public debates to result in the same type of sensationalism as scandals involving celebrities or politicians that stir up public opinion. We should be more careful. This problem, in particular, has worsened since the assassination of former Prime Minister Abe, and a significant amount of misinformation has accumulated. Therefore, the issue should be examined more thoroughly than it is at present.
Fake news and its sources led to the death of former Prime Minister Abe
There was a story suggesting that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a “deep relationship” with the Unification Church, leading one individual, who believed this to be the case, to take action extremes and ultimately resulted in the assassination of Abe.
In my opinion, the term “relationship” itself is broad enough. This can include various types of relationships such as “neighborly relationships”, “friendship”, “acquaintance” and even “conflict”, “hostility” and “a generic relationship with others”. This is why I deliberately wrote three articles with the strong title “Abe had no relationship with the Unification Church.” Today marks a year since that tragic shooting, and I think everyone can see that what I wrote was correct.
So it is important to look at who was telling the truth and who was spreading lies on this issue and consider changing our sources of information. False information and unreliable sources have led to irreversible consequences. The tragedy that has already happened cannot be undone, but we can change the fake news and news sources. If we don’t even do this, it would effectively be acting “against humanity”.
1.Former Prime Minister Abe’s video message sent to the UPF (Universal Peace Federation)
Some individuals have propagated the idea that former Prime Minister Abe was deeply involved in Unification Church-related organizations, based on the fact that he sent a video message to a Unification Church gathering. FPU. However, it is important to note that UPF stands for Universal Peace Federation, an international NGO with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Personalities from around the world, including former President Trump and other leaders of major countries, have sent messages at UPF events. Figures like Vice President Pence and Secretary Pompeo of the US Republican Party have even attended UPF events in South Korea. In this context, it must be recognized that this has been considered acceptable on a global scale. Reflecting on the situation, we can say that Abe’s sending a video is comparably indicative of a relationship that was nothing special. In other words, the attempt to sensationalize and present Abe’s video message as a special relationship with the Unification Church was an exaggeration and should be corrected.
2.The full text of the video message sent to the UPF
When you look the full text of the video message, he does not praise the Unification Church nor does he express particular reverence for its leader, President Hak Ja Han. Only part of the polite expressions addressed to the FPU: “In honoring Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon and all of you, I would like to express my deep thanks for your tireless efforts through the FPU to resolve disputes in the world, especially at this time. which concerns the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. » – was isolated and became widely known. In fact, I have never seen a Japanese person who does not include polite words when greeting. It is completely normal to use polite expressions, and it is wrong to claim that “Abe had a relationship with the Unification Church” based only on this video message.
3. The claim that former Prime Minister Abe received 50 million yen as payment from the UPF.
Journalist Eight Suzuki claimed that former Prime Minister Abe received 50 million yen from the UPF as an appearance fee, but there is no evidence to support this claim. Despite the mention of “privileged information,” no justification for the appearance fee emerged. FPU also denied this allegation. Nonetheless, misinformation continues to be spread by individuals influenced by Eight Suzuki’s statements, and some still believe this misinformation.
4. Eight Suzuki’s Claims Regarding Former Prime Minister Abe’s Invitation of President Tokuno of the Unification Church to the Prime Minister’s Residence
Eight Suzuki, who claims to have inside information from the religious group, claimed that” In early June 2016, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe invited Eiji Tokuno, the president of the Unification Church and the Federation of Families for World Peace and Unification, as well as the president’s wife So Yon Chon , at the Prime Minister’s residence.” However, the Prime Minister’s daily schedule is carefully recorded. Looking at the Prime Minister’s calendar for early June 2016, it appears highly unlikely that the meeting took place on a day other than June 3 and 8. Even if Tokuno had been invited to the Prime Minister’s residence on either of those days, the meeting would have only lasted twenty minutes. It would be hard to imagine that a close and deep relationship could develop in just twenty minutes. Additionally, Tokuno himself stated that he was not invited to the Prime Minister’s residence.
Amid the proliferation of such rumors, former Prime Minister Abe met a tragic end. However, the misinformation and its sources have remained unchanged and uncorrected, often causing a sensation whenever these rumors are associated with the Unification Church. In fact, there should be a stern cry to say “Enough!”
However, there appears to be no such consideration regarding the issue of the Unification Church, and it appears that the campaign against it continues as it is.
Of course, as a defender of Orthodox Christian doctrine, I observe the Unification Church from a critical perspective. However, the current situation is radically different from what I know and it surprised me.
There have been situations in the past where public outcry has led the government to act, and this is not something new. But this time, it is a “religious” question. In the cases of the Recruit scandal and the Moritomo Gakuen affair, when time passed and the public forgot, the only thing that remained was the media frenzy when the lid was finally lifted. But this time it’s not allowed. In terms of the seriousness of the matter, it should be completely different from past issues in which the government was involved and influenced by the sensation caused by the media. The level of importance differs depending on whether the government initiates the dissolution of a religious society and requests the dissolution of a private organization. This is the first religious persecution in post-war history, and it could also seriously undermine Japanese constitutionalism.