Shutting Out the Media…Behind the Scenes of the “Unification Church” Conference on the Shooting of Former Prime Minister Abe | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shutting Out the Media…Behind the Scenes of the “Unification Church” Conference on the Shooting of Former Prime Minister Abe

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Summary of the press conference distributed to the media. 

I am deeply saddened by the loss of a great leader whom the Japanese people respected and loved. As a religious leader, I take it very seriously that such a grave outcome has occurred.”

So said Tomihiro Tanaka, President of the “Family Federation for World Peace and Unification” (formerly the Unification Church).


At 14:00 on July 11, the “Unification Church” held a press conference at a hotel in Tokyo. In the case of the shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the suspect Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, stated that he had a grudge against the religious group as his motive. This was in response to reports that the religious group was the “Unification Church”.

The press conference was held at a hotel in Tokyo. President Tanaka appeared at the press conference and stated, “The suspect is not a believer,” “The suspect’s mother is a member of the church and has attended events about once a month,” and “We will not discuss the suspect’s motive or the donation issue, as we believe the police are still investigating the matter.”


Prior to this press conference, the organization distributed a summary of the press conference to the media. 

This press conference is for invited media only.”

“Each media outlet will be limited to four participants.”

“Each company may ask no more than one question.”

A freelance reporter who attended the event said, 

“Only major media such as national newspapers and TV stations were allowed to enter the venue. Dozens of people, including weekly media and freelance reporters, gathered at the site to cover the press conference. However, the church’s public relations staff did not allow anyone but major media to enter the venue. If you say ‘for the convenience of the venue,’ it is strange that four ‘invited media’ were allowed in, but none of the non-major media.”

“Furthermore, despite our request that ‘if we can’t get in, at least open the door to the venue so we can see you from the outside,’ even that was not granted. They shut us out. Some of the writers had been harsh in their reporting and writing about the church. Unlike the major media outlets, when we entered, they must have thought we were out of control, asking questions freely.”

Reporters who were shut out of the press conference

Mr. Tanaka explained the reason for limiting the number of participating media at the press conference.

“There have been some unsolicited phone calls to several churches in our corporation,” he said. “We have also been receiving mindless press coverage from the media. We feel that it is the responsibility of those in charge of the corporation to protect the congregation, so we have invited the media, who we can trust in a certain way, to join us this time.”

Chairman Tanaka said, “We will continue to respond to interviews on an individual basis,” but why limit coverage when there is a press conference about such an incident? He went on to comment that the crucial part of the case was “under investigation,” which cannot be said to be fulfilling his “accountability”.

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