The “Former Unification Church Issue”: A Serious Crack Between Prime Minister Kishida and LDP Leaders
It was past 4:00 p.m. on September 7. The president’s reception room on the fourth floor of the LDP headquarters was filled with a somber atmosphere.
Shouldn’t we disclose the names of everyone we had contact with?
When Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, 65, began in his usual nonchalant manner, one of the “heavyweights” denied it, albeit gently, with a grim expression on his face.
It’s not easy,” he said. There are cases where secretaries send congratulatory telegrams without the members of the Diet being aware of it.”
The voice belongs to Toshimitsu Mogi, 66, secretary general of the LDP. He is the number two of the Liberal Democratic Party.
As you know, his “close relationship” with the former Unification Church (Family Federation for World Peace and Unification) has become a major problem within the LDP. Prime Minister Kishida, who felt that “careful explanation to the public is important,” ordered a survey of all LDP members to determine their “contacts with the Unification Church. The names of those lawmakers who answered that they had contacts were made public in an attempt to gain the public’s trust. Immediately after the survey was completed, a press conference was even scheduled to announce the contacts between the former Unification Church and 379 members of the LDP.
However. As it turned out, at the press conference held on September 8, Mogi announced that he had “contacts” with only 179 members of the Diet. Why has the number of members “shrunk” to such a small number?
In fact, it seems that there was a row between Kishida, the LDP’s top leader, and Mogi, the LDP’s number two, over the disclosure of contacts with LDP members. A source close to the LDP revealed, “The LDP is rapidly losing support.
Mr. Kishida thinks that the reason the LDP is rapidly losing support is that the LDP is not explaining itself well enough. Mr. Mogi, on the other hand, seems to think the opposite: “If we disclose the name of a lawmaker who has greeted the Unification Church, it will only fuel the fire. The difference in their views has not narrowed, resulting in an awkward public disclosure.
The difference in temperature over the investigation and release of the information was said to have arisen immediately after the issue was first brought to light.
At a press conference held on July 26, immediately after the former Unification Church issue came to light, Secretary General Mogi was the first to deny any organizational involvement, saying, “The party has nothing to do with this. Subsequently, the members of the Diet who had been in contact with the party were discovered in a steady stream, and the party’s backward attitude toward investigations and explanations drew strong criticism. The prime minister felt that he had made a mistake from the very beginning because of the secretary-general’s misjudgment, and he questioned the secretary-general’s ability to take a backward step.
Despite repeated exchanges of words between Kishida, who wanted to drain out all the pus and turn the situation around, and Mogi, who wanted to avoid a full public announcement and deal with the matter without delay, the distance between the two did not shorten even in September.
The meeting at the beginning of this report shows that the gap between the two men is widening, and in addition to the two men, Taro Aso (81), Vice President, Toshiaki Endo (72), Chairman of the General Affairs Committee, Kōichi Hagiuda (59), Chairman of the Policy Research Council, and Hiroshige Seko (59), Secretary General of the House of Councilors, are also present at this meeting. The discussion continued on the question of “full disclosure or partial disclosure.
The discussion was on whether to make a full or partial public disclosure. If not, we will not disclose them.
When Seko said this, the participants agreed with him, saying, “That’s a good compromise. The participants seemed to have decided that further discussion would only widen the gap between the two sides. Thus, 179 names (121 if duplicates are excluded) were released.
However, this “compromise plan” was to cause further distrust by the public. At the closed session of the Diet on August 8, Prime Minister Kishida reiterated his previous position. Even with Mogi’s press conference, no explanation was given to dispel the many doubts, and the curtain did not fall on the former Unification Church issue.
After all, all the members of the church should have been made public. ……
When asked by reporters on the evening of August 8, “Will the investigation gain the public’s understanding and resolve the criticism?
We will take the results of the investigation very seriously and make every effort to restore public trust. I would like you to ask the secretary-general for more details.”
One theory is that Mogi is next in line if Kishida goes down, and some are even suggesting that Mogi may be making a bad move that could be the downfall of Kishida’s cabinet. The true intentions of the two men, like the names of the Diet members, will probably never be made public, but it seems likely that their “dark struggle” will continue for some time to come.
Photo： Yoshio Tsunoda/Afro Interview and text by： Daisuke Iwasaki