Almost half of LDP lawmakers had ties with Unification Church

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi discloses the results of a survey on links between LDP Diet members and the Unification Church at the party’s headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday.

Among the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s 379 Diet members, 179 had connections with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the party has disclosed.

At a press conference on Thursday, the LDP also released the names of 121 members who had particularly close ties with the group widely known as the Unification Church.

“I take the survey results seriously,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said to reporters on Thursday. “I would like to make sure every member follows the party’s basic policy of not having connections with organizations considered problematic in society and enhance a system to check whether members are following the policy.”

Kishida, who is president of the LDP, also indicated a subcommittee would be established under the party’s Research Commission on Consumer Issues. “We will work hard to prevent further damage from the group and provide relief for victims,” he said.

At Thursday’s press conference, LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi said: “We are taking the results [of the survey] seriously. We feel sincerely apologetic and will make sure all party members never have such connections.”

The LDP was initially apprehensive about conducting the survey. It asked its Diet members to check for any connections on Aug. 9. However, with public criticism growing, Kishida called for the results of the checks to be compiled.

The LDP distributed a questionnaire to all LDP Diet members on Aug. 26 and received answers from all of them by Sept. 2. As the returned surveys included many ambiguous statements, Motegi called members concerned and confirmed their responses.

Party hopes to put issue to bed

Now that the results of the survey have been released, the government and the ruling bloc hope to draw the curtain on the issue, but whether that will be possible remains unclear.

On Thursday, Motegi explained that nearly 90% of the lawmakers who attended meetings held by affiliated organizations said they did not know the organizations were affiliated with the Unification Church.

“We will develop a system to allow lawmakers to check the details of such meetings themselves so that the decision is not left up to their secretaries,” Motegi said.

Opposition parties have said the LDP’s response is insufficient and plan to pursue the issue going forward.

According to the survey, House of Representatives member Hiroaki Saito and House of Councillors member Yoshiyuki Inoue accepted support from the group in election campaigns.

Unification Church volunteers helped out during the election campaigns of 17 lawmakers, including former Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Koichi Hagiuda, head of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council.

Regarding financial support, 29 lawmakers, including former education minister Hakubun Shimomura and former LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba, received donations from organizations affiliated with the Unification Church or received money through fundraising party tickets bought by such organizations.

Forty-nine lawmakers, including Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Katsunobu Kato and Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Minoru Terada, paid membership fees to organizations related to the Unification Church.

Ten lawmakers, including Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihiko Isozaki, attended meetings held by the Unification Church,

A total of 96 lawmakers delivered speeches at meetings held by affiliated organizations and 20 lawmakers, including Daishiro Yamagiwa, the minister in charge of economic revitalization, delivered lectures at such meetings.

Many lawmakers admitted having multiple forms of involvement with the Unification Church.