Japan tightens rules on donations to religious groups after Abe’s murder

Japan tightens rules on donations to religious groups after Abe’s murder

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The Japanese government will propose new law to prevent harmfully large donations to religious groups, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday after the killing of Shinzo Abe tightened scrutiny by the Unification Church.

Kishida has struggled with criticism of links between the cult and politicians since the July shooting of former Prime Minister Abe.

The man accused of Abe’s murder reportedly angered the Unification Church over his mother’s massive donations, which bankrupted the family.

Kishida said he has met people who have suffered because of large financial contributions to the church, which denies wrongdoing and has pledged to prevent “excessive” donations.

“It was heartbreaking to hear their stories,” the prime minister told reporters as he outlined plans to curb “malicious donations,” where members of religious groups are pressured into donating often excessive amounts.

“Regarding the new legislation to support victims of malicious donations … the government will do its utmost to bring the bill forward as soon as possible,” he said, hopefully during the ongoing parliamentary session, which ends December 10.

Details of the law are currently being discussed, but it will focus on “banning socially unacceptable and malicious recruitment practices” and “allowing for the recall of donations,” Kishida said.

Last month he ordered a state probe into the Unification Church, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

The investigation could result in a dissolution order, which would result in the church losing its status as a tax-exempt religious organization, although it could continue to operate.

Founded in Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, the church, whose members are sometimes referred to as “Moonies,” gained worldwide prominence in the 1970s and 80s.

It’s famous for its mass wedding ceremonies, and groups linked to the church have secured addresses from influential speakers over the years, including Abe and former US President Donald Trump, neither of whom are affiliated with the sect.

Government approval ratings have plummeted in recent months, recently hitting their lowest level since Kishida took office last year, when a Japanese minister resigned after his ties to the church were put under scrutiny.

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