Yamagiwa to quit due to his ties to Unification Church

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Daishiro Yamagiwa

Economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa decided Monday to resign to take responsibility over his relationship with the Unification Church, several governmental and Liberal Democratic Party sources said.

Yamagiwa’s resignation is believed to constitute his effective removal by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. This is the first resignation of a minister during his term since the Kishida Cabinet was formed in October last year.

Kishida has made economic measures his top priority. Yamagiwa’s resignation is therefore sure to be a major blow to the Cabinet, the approval rating for which continues to fall. Kishida is hurrying to arrange the nomination of Yamagiwa’s successor.

Yamagiwa has been found to have close ties to the Unification Church, which is officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. On Friday, he admitted at a press conference that he had been in a group photo with the organization’s leader Han Hak-ja in Aichi Prefecture in 2019.

In addition, Yamagiwa invited executives of organizations affiliated with the Unification Church to his national policy briefings and town speeches. He also paid membership fees to affiliated organizations and attended multiple meetings.

Even after the LDP released the results of an investigation into ties between its members and the Unification Church, Yamagiwa’s connections with the group were newly uncovered one after another. An increasing number of LDP members and government officials said they could no longer protect him.

Yamagiwa belongs to the LDP faction led by Taro Aso and is close to former LDP Secretary General Akira Amari. He became a cabinet member for the first time when Kishida launched his Cabinet last October, and retained his post in a reshuffle this August.

He is in charge of COVID-19 measures, in addition to such areas as measures related to Kishida’s signature policy of a new form of capitalism, support for start-ups and reform of the social security system for all generations.

Earlier Monday, Kishida had reiterated his intention not to oust Yamagiwa at a House of Councillors Budget Committee session.