In the wake of the assassination of former leader Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister has ordered an investigation into the Unification Church, a religious organization that has come under scrutiny.
The alleged killer stated that the church had bankrupted his mother and that Abe was responsible for supposedly supporting it.
In the weeks that followed, scrutiny of the religious cult exposed its ties to numerous government officials.
The incident compelled Fumio Kishida, the leader, to apologize for these ties.
After earlier opposing requests for a federal investigation into the church, he admitted on Monday that one will be conducted.
He stated that he was “taking seriously” allegations that the church had destroyed families and exploited its members for financial gain.
The church has previously stated that it has been wrongly maligned for condemning the Abe shooting.
Several lawsuits have been filed against the church by former members.
Mr. Kishida acknowledged the church’s “many victims” and stated that “efforts to assist them remain inadequate.”
Local political analysts characterized Mr. Kishida’s announcement as an effort to regain public trust. His voter approval rating has dropped over the past few months as news of his party’s ties to the church has spread.
An internal examination conducted by the Liberal Democratic Party, which is led by Mr. Kishida, revealed that 179 of its 379 legislators had connected with the Unification Church.
Following this report, Mr. Kishida issued an apology and stated that he had instructed his party’s legislators to sever all relations with the cult. He further emphasized that he had no personal ties to the group.
The Unification Church, which was founded by Sun Myung Moon in South Korea in the early 1950s, reached Japan the next decade and fostered ties with politicians to expand its following and reputation, according to researchers.
Observers claim that the group sends its members to work as volunteers or other staff in the offices of lawmakers and that it has established a network with the conservative party. The LDP has denied that it has any organizational ties with the religion.
Critics have referred to The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification as a “cult-like” organization. Lawyers have accused the organization of coercing its adherents, informally known as “Moonies” after its founder, to give significant quantities of money.
Before Mr. Abe’s death, his affiliation with the religious group was the subject of inquiry, particularly on social media. Last year, he appeared remotely as a speaker at a church-related event, and his grandfather, who was also a former prime minister of Japan, was considered to have had anti-communist ties to the church.