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How Abe and Japan became vital to Moon’s Unification Church

Abe, like many other world leaders, had appeared at Unification Church-related events as a paid speaker, most recently in September on a program that also featured former president Donald Trump, who spoke via video link.

With door-to-door sales tactics that targeted grieving elderly people and the cultivation of prominent political leaders, the Unification Church has spent decades establishing Japan as its most dependable profit center, according to investigators who study the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s many-tentacled spiritual and financial global empire, reports the Washington Post’s Marc Fisher.

Now, after the suspected assassin of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe told police that he blamed a religious group for his mother’s bankruptcy, and the Unification Church confirmed that the shooter’s mother was a member of its Japanese branch, the role of the church, long controversial in the country, is once again being scrutinized.

The suspected shooter, Tetsuya Yamagami, told police that his mother had been financially ruined after being pressured to donate large sums of money to a religious group, according to Japanese news reports.

Tomihiro Tanaka, who runs the church’s Japanese branch, said at a news conference Monday that Yamagami’s mother joined the organization in 1998, then left for a time and returned to the fold this year. A church official said he did not have information about the mother’s donations to the organization and had no record of Yamagami himself having ever belonged to the church. Police have not yet named the religious organization.

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