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HOME  > Past issues  > 2022 July 20 - 26  > Ex-Education Minister Shimomura may have approved Moonies' name change
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2022 July 20 - 26 [POLITICS]

Ex-Education Minister Shimomura may have approved Moonies' name change

July 24, 2022

Suspicion arose on July 23 that Shimomura Hakubun, Education Minister in 2015, was involved in promoting a name change of the "Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity" known as the Unification Church (Moonies) to the "Family Federation for World Peace and Unification" in 2015 despite having knowledge of the organization’s illegal sales of costly religious goods.

The Education Ministry's Agency for Cultural Affairs had for many years rejected the former Unification Church's application for a name change, by stating that renaming of the organization is unacceptable as its substance and dogma will not change. However, in 2015, the name change was suddenly approved under the Abe government when Shimomura was Education Minister.

The following year, Shimomura's campaign office received monetary donations from a newspaper company which was founded by Moon Sun-Myung.

Shimomura, Liberal Democratic Party member of the House of Representatives, posted a tweet denying his involvement by claiming that the final decision-maker regarding the name change was the agency's cultural affairs department chief at that time.

In reaction to this tweet, Constitutional Democratic Party member of the former House of Councilors Arita Yoshifu revealed that he made an inquiry in 2015 to the agency's religious affairs division about the renamed organization and that the agency told him that it explained to Shimomura beforehand about the name change.

In regard to this revelation, Japanese Communist Party member of the House of Representatives Miyamoto Toru on July 22 contacted the agency's religious affairs division and found that it was true.

Former Administrative Vice Minister of Education Maekawa Kihei, who rejected the Moonies' name change when he was the head of the agency's religious affairs division, pointed out, "Offering an explanation to the minister beforehand means asking for instructions as to whether to approve the change of the Unification Church's name. In this light, it is strange for Shimomura to deny his involvement."

Akahata asked Shimomura a question if he instructed the agency to approve the name change, but no answer has been given as of July 24.

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