Moriyama's Unification Church Ties Draw Scrutiny

Moriyama's Unification Church Ties Draw Scrutiny

Education Minister Masahito Moriyama, who has jurisdiction over religious corporations, came under scrutiny for receiving campaign support from a group with ties to the Unification Church during the 2021 Lower House election. Moriyama, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has denied requesting support but acknowledged attending the group's meetings.

The Federation for World Peace, connected to the Unification Church, reportedly provided significant assistance to Moriyama's campaign, including a "telephone operation" where followers made hundreds of calls daily urging support. The federation's objective, sources suggest, was to secure Moriyama's backing for revisions to Japan's postwar pacifist Constitution.

In September 2023, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida appointed Moriyama as Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Around this time, the Unification Church became embroiled in an investigation over its fundraising practices.

Upon request, the Tokyo District Court, acting on the investigation's findings, ordered the dissolution of the Unification Church, now known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. Moriyama's role in this dissolution raised questions about his relationship with the group.

When confronted about the campaign support, Moriyama claimed ignorance, stating he did not remember the event or receiving assistance. Followers of the church expressed dismay at his denial, citing their efforts to secure his election. The Federation for World Peace declined to comment on the allegations.

Despite the claims, Moriyama received a letter of endorsement from the Federation for World Peace during the 2021 event, as evidenced by a photograph. Prime Minister Kishida has indicated that he intends to retain Moriyama in his Cabinet position.