The mother of the man accused of killing Shinzo Abe on Friday (8) is a member of the Unification Church, confirming this Monday (11) of an organization also known as the “Moon sect”, from which the suspect seeks revenge. attacking the ex-Japanese prime minister.
Here are some elements of this religious movement that emerged in South Korea, which has always maintained its ties with the political authorities while building a world economic empire.
Who was its founder?
The highly controversial Sun Myung Moon (1920-2012) was born into a farming family in what is now North Korea. At the age of 15, he claimed to have seen a vision of Jesus Christ, who asked him to continue his mission so that Humanity could reach a “sinless” state of purity.
Moon founded his own church in Seoul in 1954 and soon entered politics, initially taking an openly anti-communist streak and drawing the sympathy of the South Korean military regime at the time.
Moon has also been involved with foreign heads of state, such as Richard Nixon in the United States, whom he supported during the Watergate scandal. In France, during the 1980s, the Church maintained its brief ties with the far-right National Front movement.
The organization has gradually become an economic empire in various sectors (construction, food, automobile, tourism, media…) making its founder a billionaire.
Sun Myung Moon made his first world tour in 1965 and settled in the United States in the 1970s. He was convicted of tax evasion and spent more than a year in prison in the United States in the early 1980s.
How important is it?
Known for celebrating large-group marriages, the Unification Church is currently controlled by the widow of its founder, his second wife, Hak Ja Han, with whom he has about ten children.
In 2012, the organization claimed to have three million supporters worldwide, which is an exaggeration according to experts. Its influence has waned since the 1980s due to social and political changes, internal divisions and the death of its founder in South Korea.
Outside of its country of origin, the Church is mainly present in the United States, Japan, but also – mainly in the 1980s – in Latin America, particularly Brazil.
What ties do you have with Shinzo Abe?
Japanese police said on Friday that Abe’s alleged murderer, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, “hated this organization” and decided to kill the former prime minister because he believed he had ties to the organization.
According to local media, this was going to be a religious organization – anonymous – and Yamagami hated it because it received substantial donations from his mother, who put his family in serious financial trouble.
Tomihiro Tanaka, head 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 had been in financial difficulties since 2002, but said he ignored the reasons why: “donations are voluntary.”
Tanaka also pointed out that Shinzo Abe was “never” one of his members or mentors.
However, organizations close to the Unification Church frequently invite important political figures to world peace conferences.
Former President Donald Trump attended one such conference online in 2021, and Abe was criticized by a group of Japanese lawyers for sending a video message at a similar event.