There have been daily reports about the former Unification Church (now the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification) and Diet members. Among them, the Seiwa-kai (Abe faction), led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is reported to be in “close contact” with Hiroyuki Hosoda, 78, speaker of the House of Representatives, Nobuo Kishi, 63, minister of defense, and Hirofumi Shimomura, 68, former minister of education. The “Unification Church” is a former member of the Unification Church.
Of the nearly 100 LDP lawmakers in the “former Unification Church-affiliated Diet,” 35 are Seiwa-kai members, or 40% of the total, outnumbering all other factions.
The Seiwa-kai has produced four prime ministers since 2000: Yoshiro Mori, Junichiro Koizumi, Yasuo Fukuda, and Abe, and is still the largest faction with nearly 100 members. A veteran member of the Seiwa-kai explains.
Twenty-five years ago, the Keiseikai (Hashimoto faction) was at its peak, and the Seiwakai was one of the side factions. Heavy cabinet ministers such as finance and foreign affairs ministers, as well as agriculture, forestry, METI, and MLIT ministers and other posts with special interests did not come around, and Chairman Mori of the Education Clan managed to obtain a ministerial post at the Ministry of Education. The Religious Affairs Division of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, an offshoot of the Ministry of Education, has jurisdiction over religious corporations. Former Prime Minister Abe is one of the few politicians who has made use of religious corporations through the Ministry of Education.”
Religious corporations enjoy preferential tax treatment, for example, there is no tax on offerings. In addition, real estate can be registered in the name of the corporation, and registration of a building for worship and its grounds guarantees a prohibition against foreclosure. Of course, voluntary organizations do not have such special provisions, and it is only logical that a religious organization would approach a powerful member of the Bunkyo Clan in order to become a religious corporation and maintain its corporate status. The aforementioned councilor explains that it was Prime Minister Abe’s astute eye that caught this situation.
“It’s obvious from the list of education ministers since the second Abe administration.
Since the Abe administration took office in 2012, there have been seven education ministers: Shimomura, Hase, Matsuno Hirokazu, Hayashi Yoshimasa, Shibayama Masahiko, Kōichi Hagiuda, and Sue Matsu Shinsuke. With the exception of Hayashi, who is a member of the Koike-kai (Kishida faction), they are all members of the Seiwa-kai.
As former Prime Minister Abe’s funeral was held at Zojoji Temple, they belong to different religious sects. However, former Prime Minister Abe knew the tricks of the election and knew that it was important to keep the Education Minister post in order to move religious organizations. Even in the Kan and Kishida administrations after Abe, the Education Minister post was controlled by the Seiwa-kai. If a religious corporation wants to build a school, they will petition for it. They also need to maintain their corporate status. In return, they used religious organizations as “election machines.
In national elections, not only money is needed, but also manpower that works for free. These three activities, “making phone calls,” “putting up posters,” and “going door-to-door,” tend to be shunned by ordinary campaigners, and it is not difficult to imagine that volunteers would be discouraged by them.
It is hard to imagine that volunteers would be discouraged by such activities. Missionary work and political activities go hand in hand, and believers make excellent “campaign workers. Former Prime Minister Abe has won six consecutive national elections, and this streak of victories has been backed by their support,” said a member of the Diet.
The former Unification Church functioned as a useful “election machine” for politicians. On the other hand, there have been cases of excessive donations causing the breakup of families. The Democratic Party of Japan and The Japan Innovation Party have launched investigations into the involvement of former Unification Church members with their respective parties. Meanwhile, on July 26, Secretary General Toshimitsu Mogi stated at a press conference.
On July 26, Secretary General Toshimitsu Mogi stated, “The LDP has firmly confirmed that there is no organizational relationship between the two parties. The party has nothing to do with it.”
Is he trying to say that the only party involved is the Seiwa-kai, and that they should just take the blame?
Interview and text by： Daisuke Iwasaki Photo by： Kyodo News