The Japanese witch hunt since the murder of Shinzo Abe
The real killer is irrelevant as the public is tricked into believing the Unification Church is the real culprit
Tetsuya Yamagami (right), the man charged with the murder of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is escorted by police as he leaves Nara Nishi Police Station to go to the Nara Prosecutor’s Office on July 10. (Photo: Jiji Press/AFP)
If you never read Japanese newspapers but picked one up one day, you would think the national government is a puppet show run by a mysterious religious entity.
For decades, no media bothered to analyze the well-known and deeply rooted cultural phenomenon of shin shukyo (the so-called new religions). But now it seems that’s all the media cares about, so much so that one politician after another is being pressured to confess their hidden or known ties to these entities.
It’s even better if there’s a direct connection to the Unification Church.
Minoru Terada, adviser to the prime minister, admitted to paying 20,000 yen ($170) in 2018, as one newspaper reported, “to attend an event organized by a church-affiliated group, although he didn’t realize it at the time. ”
Although we don’t see the crime here, Terada told reporters, probably as his advisers if not lawyers have said, that he ultimately did not attend any other events and never received any donations or campaign support from the group.
The newspapers presented this “news” as tantamount to a crime but did not add that accepting donations from these groups was not illegal.
“I was not aware that the church was involved in an event that I had already attended”
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi had to apologize for accepting an interview with Sekai Nippo, a publication with close ties to the Unification Church, in 2012. Hayashi had to state that he received no donations or campaign support from the group. Illegal? No.
Akihiro Nishimura, the new environment minister, also ‘confessed’ his share of sins saying, ‘I was not aware that the church was involved in an event that I had already attended.
Katsunobu Kato, Minister of Health, and Daishiro Yamagiwa, Minister of Economic Revitalization, both admitted to paying “dues” to church-affiliated organizations. Again, illegal? No.
That some church members served as volunteers for a politician’s campaign has become equally worthy of a scarlet letter deserving of a public apology, but again no one seems to explain why.
A month after Abe’s assassination, Japan’s cabinet is in the midst of a reshuffle, as the Japanese media investigate lawmakers – especially those in the ruling party – in ways they never imagined before, even for actual crimes.
As the Unification Church said in a statement, members of the group perform these actions with complete autonomy and as completely private citizens.
“It looks and smells like anti-religious sentiments, and in this push the media is playing a key role”
In the meantime, the sex scandals that have sullied at least two personalities do not seem to attract the same media attention. Could this be a morbid form of anti-religious sentiment?
Why do we feel there is this tendency to downplay (even hide) sex crimes, but not overlook any minor misconduct related to an extraneous belief? Is it just Abe’s death?
Looking at the country’s history and the 250 year ban on Christianity, whose missionaries worked to stop the horrific pedophile practices of Buddhist monks, could this be a clue?
Isn’t it an anti-cult sentiment that animates these stories? It looks and smells like anti-religious sentiments, and in this push the media is playing a key role.
In an effort to explode the Unification Church “scandal” to stratospheric levels, international newspapers described its methods of recruiting followers thus: “Recruitment tactics consist of knocking on doors, targeting relatives of members and to approach people outside stations.”
The precise intention is to make every religious group suspect. In fact, the same tactic is adopted by Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world and also by the revered and honored (even by the Japanese) Francis Xavier when he set foot in Japan.
“People give money because they are being brainwashed and if someone in their family decides to avenge them, they have the right to do so”
Has the media ever scrutinized NHK (Japanese National Broadcast) tactics to get their share of “followers”? Knocking on the door of every Japanese home without having the right to do so.
What is outrageous is that the general public is being influenced by this rhetoric to believe the idea that the Unification Church is indeed the real culprit in Abe’s murder.
The real killer is already irrelevant. Many even justify his act, as a “natural revenge” because “he had his reasons” because “his mother was scammed to give money by this sect”.
Some are willing to assume that when it comes to religious gifts, there is no longer free will involved. People give money because they are being brainwashed and if someone related to them decides to avenge them, they have the right to do so. Such is the perilous sub-narrative dominating now.
Let us be aware that when we witness witch hunts of this magnitude against people reputedly affiliated with religious groups, all followers of all religions have something to lose.
Who decides whether a donation is made in good faith or under psychological duress? If the government or the media retains this power, we all have something to fear.
The freedom to profess one’s faith is enshrined in the Constitution. Let us remember that the Catholic religion in Japan was first welcomed with open arms, then when it began to succeed, it was seen as a foreign threat, a social destabilizer, strategically pursuing the poorest citizens and more ignorant and brainwashing them with single deity fantasies. We know how it happened.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.