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Japanese PM calls for probe against Unification Church

People offer flowers at the memorial outside Nippon Budokan during state funeral of late former Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan, on September 27. The Japanese government said Monday it will investigate the Unification Church. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
People offer flowers at the memorial outside Nippon Budokan during state funeral of late former Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan, on September 27. The Japanese government said Monday it will investigate the Unification Church. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has led to an investigation into the Unification Church after the suspect in the incident claimed the followers bankrupted his mother.

Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said he ordered the investigation despite the government rejecting previous calls for such a probe.

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The government will investigate the Unification Church based on its Religious Corporation Law, which allows the government to investigate religious organizations suspected of wrongdoing.

Kishida told the Japanese legislative body, the Diet, in a session Monday he based his decision on civil lawsuits that plaintiffs won against the church in 2016 and 2017 as a reason for moving ahead with an investigation.

"Although large numbers of people have suffered and many families collapsed and were broken (by the church), measures to save victims have yet to be sufficiently taken," Kishida said, according to the Asahi Shimbun. "The government takes this situation very seriously."

An earlier internal investigation conducted by the Kishida's Liberal Democratic Party found that 179 of its 379 lawmakers had interacted with the Unification Church at some time.

The Unification Church is based out of South Korea and was founded by Sun Myung Moon in the early 1950s. The church developed ties with Japanese political leaders when they found a foothold in that country in the1960s.

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Abe had appeared remotely as a speaker at a Unification Church-related event last year, which has sparked speculation after his death about his ties.

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