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Handling Of Unification Church Scandal Continues To Create Headwinds For Kishida


The Unification Church scandal continues to create a drag on the Cabinet's popularity, as 65% of respondents told JNN that senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party with ties to the religious movement should step down.

  • The decision to appoint Daishiro Yamagiwa as head of the new COVID-19 task force is seen as particularly controversial. Yamagiwa was recently ousted as Minister for Economic Revitalisation due to the lack of transparency over his links with the Unification Church. Yamagiwa attended a closed-doors event for supporters in his constituency over the weekend. Sources told Asahi that the ex-Minister's apologies received a mixed reception, with some in the audience criticising him for insufficient explanations.
  • Yomiuri cited talk among LDP members who said that their leader "doesn't understand the mood of public opinion. This is not the first time such reports are doing the rounds, with Kishida coming under fire from various quarters within the LDP over his handling of the Unification Church scandal and tapping his son as an executive secretary during a politically sensitive period, which accelerated the drop in the Cabinet's approval ratings.
  • Kishida's room for manoeuvre is limited by coalition dynamics, as links between political parties and religious groups come under scrutiny. The LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito is closely aligned with the lay Buddhist organisation Soka Gakkai and any tightening of regulations on religious entities could affect its chief constituency. A senior Komeito official told Yomiuri that the party is concerned about being "lumped together with the Unification Church."

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