Japan PM to review politicians' ties to Unification Church

Japan PM to review politicians' ties to Unification Church

On July 27th, 2022, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo. KIYOSHI OTA Pool Photo via AP TOKYO Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will be reshuffled his cabinet on Wednesday, paying attention to politicians' ties with the Unification Church, to distance his administration from the controversial group and reverse a slump in opinion polls.

The reshuffle comes as Kishida's administration faces tumbling support rates. Since the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead last month, public scrutiny of the group and ruling Liberal Democratic Party LDP lawmakers has increased markedly since the group's relations with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Abe was shot by a man whose mother is a member, and told investigators he believed Abe had promoted the group to which his mother had made ruinous donations, Japanese media reported.

On Tuesday, Kishida said new members of his cabinet and new ruling party officials must review their ties with the group.

Kishida said that it would be a prerequisite to speaking at a news conference in Nagasaki.

The support for Kishida's cabinet has fallen to the lowest level since he took office last October, down to 46 percent from 59 percent three weeks ago, according to NHK public broadcaster on Monday. A large majority of respondents said they wanted an explanation of politicians' ties to the Unification Church.

Kishida said in Nagasaki his cabinet needs to be reshuffled to deal with problems such as rising prices and an increasingly tense security environment.

He said that we are facing the most critical situation since the end of World War Two.

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Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki will be retained, government and LDP sources told Reuters, who didn't want to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.

On August 9, 2022, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the Peace Park in Nagasaki, on the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing during WWII. STR JIJI PRESS AFP Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will also keep his job, as will chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno and LDP Secretary General Toshimitsu Motegi, according to media reports.

Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda is expected to be shifted to a position outside the cabinet, most likely to be Chairman of the policy research committee of the LDP, the Yomiuri Shimbun daily said.

One of the advisers of Kishida, Minoru Terada, and Upper House lawmaker Naoki Okada, is expected to be appointed to the cabinet for the first time, according to Yomiuri.

The reshuffle was expected to take place in early September, but analysts said Kishida appears to be moving early to try to halt the slide in his support as soon as possible.

The idea of a state funeral for Abe, Japan's longest-serving premier, is a polarising force in the country, as well as the Unification Church connections, as the main issues raised by opinion surveys are public unhappiness with the idea of a state funeral for COVID 19 cases recently surging to record highs.

Airo Hino, a professor at Waseda University, said that the LDP is taking tough measures to deal with what is now mostly a problem of individuals before it affects the whole party.

He doesn't want to drag on the Unification Church problem.