Japan PM to review ties with Unification Church

Japan PM to review ties with Unification Church

On July 27, 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 reshuffle his cabinet on Wednesday, paying attention to politicians' ties with the Unification Church, trying 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 gunned down last month, public scrutiny of the group and ruling Liberal Democratic Party LDP lawmakers has increased greatly since the group's links with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

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

On Tuesday, Kishida said that 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.

Support for Kishida's cabinet has fallen to the lowest level since he took office in October, down to 46 percent from 59 percent three weeks ago, according to the public broadcaster of NHK on Monday, which is in line with other recent surveys. A large majority of respondents said they wanted an explanation of politicians' ties to the Unification Church.

Kishida said in Nagasaki that 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.

ALSO READ: Japan PM will reshuffle cabinet next week.

Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki will be retained, government and LDP sources told Reuters, who refused to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the Peace Park in Nagasaki on August 9, 2022, on the 77th anniversary of the atomic bombing during WWII. STR JIJI PRESS AFP Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will 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 Kishida's advisers, Minoru Terada, and upper house lawmaker Naoki Okada, are expected to be appointed to the cabinet for the first time, according to Yomiuri.

It 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.

Although his ratings have recently hit record highs due to COVID 19 cases, the main issues that are highlighted in opinion surveys are public unhappiness with the idea of a state funeral for Abe, Japan's longest-serving premier, a polarising force in the country, along with the Unification Church connections.

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

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