Lower House Speaker Denies Ties to Unification Church

The Yomiuri Shimbun
House of Representatives Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda meets with representatives of the six ruling and opposition parties at the official residence of the House of Representatives Speaker in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — House of Representatives Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda said Tuesday that he did not have a questionable relationship with the controversial religious group known as the Unification Church.

Hosoda also said that, during his time as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s biggest faction, he did not decide which candidates should receive votes from Unification Church members in the 2016 election for the House of Councillors.

The speaker of the all-important lower chamber made the remarks in a meeting with representatives of parties in the lower house’s steering committee. The roughly one-hour meeting at the speaker’s official residence was held mostly behind closed doors.

Hosoda admitted in writing last September and October that he had attended eight gatherings related to the group, officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

Opposition parties had demanded an opportunity to question the speaker, saying that he had not fulfilled his accountability.

According to a lawmaker present at the meeting, Hosoda said that he did not discover any new ties with the religious group.

“I went to meetings to which I was invited, but I didn’t get any concrete requests,” he was quoted as saying.

Hosoda also spoke about an event held by a Unification Church-linked organization in 2019 at which he told attendees that he would report the contents of the event to then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“I was merely paying lip service because I knew the organization was close to Abe,” the speaker said. “I didn’t actually report to him.”

On the Unification Church’s ties to Abe, Hosoda said that “they had a deep relationship from a long time ago” while his links with the group were “recent.”

Hosoda said he had declined to answer questions on his ties publicly or hold press conferences because such actions are “inappropriate” for a lower house speaker.