FOCUS- The suspect accused of the murder of the former Japanese prime minister wanted to “avenge” this organization, of which his mother was a member.

The mother of the man accused of killing Shinzo Abe on Friday 8 July is a member of the Unification Church, this organization also known as the “sect of the moon” confirmed on Monday. The suspect wanted to take revenge on the organization by targeting the former Japanese prime minister.

Who was the founder of this sect?

The controversial Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012), born into a peasant family in present-day North Korea. He claimed to have had a vision of Jesus Christ at the age of 15 which urged him to continue his mission so that humanity reaches a stage of purity “without sin“.

A refugee from North Korea, Moon founded his own church in Seoul in 1954, which very quickly engaged in politics, initially adopting a fiercely anti-communist line, thus attracting the sympathies of the South Korean military regime of the time. Moon has also confronted foreign heads of state, such as Richard Nixon in the United States, whom he supported during the Watergate scandal. Furthermore, in France, in the 1980s, his Church had briefly maintained links with the National Front.

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Thanks to the donations of all its followers in the world, the sect gradually becomes an economic empire present in many sectors (construction, food, automobile, tourism, education, media …) that will make its founder a billionaire. Sun Myung Moon moved to the United States in the early 1970s. Convicted of tax evasion by US courts, he spent more than a year in prison in the country in the early 1980s.

What were his missions?

The Unification Church is known for holding mass marriages. Specifically, these are ceremonies during which many couples are joined by the founder or his wife. In 2018, for example, the latter, helped by her son, married 4000 couples from 64 different countries in the same ceremony and gathered in South Korea. Many of them had met only a few days before and did not speak the language. same language.

A mass wedding ceremony organized by the sect in August 2018 in Gapyeong, South Korea. ED JONES / AFP

Another of his missions is the fight against the rise of communism, which has its origins in the personal history of Sun Myung Moon. In 1946 the founder of the sect was in fact arrested by the communist authorities who tortured him before leaving him dead. Sun Myung Moon therefore devotes many sermons to this topic and creates an associative organization dedicated to fighting this ideology through education.

What is its importance in the world?

The sect is now controlled by the widow of its founder, Hak Ja Han, his second wife, with whom he had ten children. The organization claimed in 2012 that it has three million followers worldwide. However, this number is very exaggerated, according to experts. Its influence has clearly diminished since the 1980s, due to social and political changes in South Korea, various scandals and internal divisions, before and after the death of its founder.

In Japan, the Church would have several tens of thousands of faithful. Beyond its country of origin, it is mainly present in the United States, where it is now called “Federation of Families for Peace and Unification in the World“In 1997, Sun Myung Moon united 30,000 couples in Washington.

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What links with Shinzo Abe?

The suspect in the murder of Shinzo Abe, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41,he resented a certain organizationand he decided to kill Shinzo Abe because he thought the former head of government had a connection with it, Japanese police said Friday. Local media quickly claimed that Tetsuya Yamagami was angry with her for getting large donations of her from her mother, putting their own family in great financial trouble.

Tomihiro Tanaka, the president of the Japanese branch of the Unification Church, confirmed on Monday that the suspect’s mother had been a member of the organization since 1998 and was in financial trouble around 2002.We do not know the circumstances that led this family to bankruptcy.“, However, he assured, stating that the donations for his Church took place on a voluntary basis and that the amounts were free. Tomihiro Tanaka also pointed out that Shinzo Abe had “neverhe was one of its members or advisers.

However, organizations close to the Unification Church regularly invite leading political figures to conferences on the topic of world peace. Former US President Donald Trump spoke online for one such symposium in 2021, and Shinzo Abe was also criticized by a group of Japanese lawyers for sending a video message at a similar event.

These lawyers, who defend the Japanese by accusing the sect of ruining them, also protested when Shinzo Abe sent a congratulatory message during a large church-organized collective wedding ceremony in 2006.


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