LDP to update list of members with church ties
Published: Sep 20, 2022 07:59 PM
Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will release an updated list of members who have had connections with the controversial Unification Church, its Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday.

Links between the church and LDP have been in focus ­after former premier Shinzo Abe was shot during an election rally. The suspected killer blamed Abe for supporting the church, which he said had bankrupted his mother. The church has declined to comment on her donations and has also said it no longer accepts donations that cause financial hardship.

The LDP in September said that 179 out of 379 members it surveyed were found to have interacted with the church. In a cabinet reshuffle in August, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida removed seven ministers who had disclosed connections to the church in an attempt to reverse a slide in his approval ratings. However on Tuesday, Economy Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa admitted in a news conference he had attended a Unification Church-sponsored event in 2018 that he had not previously reported to the party.

Asked whether he would consider stepping down as minister, Yamagiwa said he would take responsibility by staying on as minister and carrying out the administration's economic stimulus measures.

"This is the work I need to fulfill," he said.

Amid increasing public scrutiny into the party's relationship with the church, the cabinet's approval rating has plunged to around 30 percent in recent polls compared with a peak of around 60 percent earlier in 2022.