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Aichi gov. says Unification Church tampered with telegram to fake praise of leader

A photo in a "holy book" that the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification made a follower buy shows the religious group's founder Sun Myung Moon, left, and current leader Hak Ja Han Moon, in this photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on July 22, 2022. (Mainichi/Kentaro Ikushima)

NAGOYA -- A telegram sent by Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura to a mass gathering of the religious group Family Federation for World Peace and Unification was rewritten to appear to praise the organization's leader Hak Ja Han Moon, who was attending the function, the governor's camp has stated in a protest to the religious group.

    The man accused of murdering former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he had a vendetta against the group, more commonly known as the Unification Church. The church has been accused of extorting large donations from its followers and of "fortune-telling fraud" to scare people into buying expensive trinkets since the 1980s. Abe's assassination has also raised questions about the group's political links.

    Omura told the Mainichi Shimbun on July 22 that the telegram "was rewritten without permission, which is extremely unpleasant and regrettable. The Unification Church also acknowledged that it was tampered with and apologized in response to our protest."

    The "Hyojeong Cultural Blessing Festival and Nagoya's 40,000-Person Rally of Hope" event was held at Aichi Sky Expo in Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, in October 2019. Unification Church followers and related parties in Japan and from overseas were there, and Hak Ja Han Moon also visited the country for the occasion. A video recording showed Omura's congratulatory telegram being read aloud at the venue.

    The presenter quoted the telegram as saying, "I would like to express my deepest respect for the strong belief and leadership of leader Han, who creates the environment on a global scale for the realization of world peace, and I wish for the success of the meeting."

    According to those close to the governor, Omura sent the telegram at the request of the Unification Church and Mayor Masanobu Negita of the prefectural city of Hekinan. Sources said, "The contents (of the telegram) were not originally praising leader Han. When we protested to them (the Unification Church), they acknowledged tampering with it, claiming that the content of the congratulatory message was more general."

    Negita, who took office in 2008, was questioned about his relationship with the Unification Church during a municipal assembly meeting. He responded that he "does not know" about requesting Omura to send the telegram, or the message being rewritten. He avoided commenting on whether he was a follower.

    Regarding the falsification of the telegram, a spokesperson for the religious group said, "I don't know the details because the (event) organizer was not the Unification Church, but the executive committee."

    Accused Abe assassin Tetsuya Yamagami initially planned to attack Han with a Molotov cocktail during the Unification Church leader's trip to Aichi Prefecture to attend the 2019 event. He apparently gave up because he could not get into the venue.

    Yamagami watched a video message sent by Abe to an event held by a Unification Church-related organization in spring this year. Nara Prefectural Police believe that the video prompted him to turn his hostility on Abe, and saw Abe as a target on par with Hak Ja Han Moon.

    (Japanese original by Shiho Sakai, Shunsuke Yamashita, Ayaka Morita and Shinichiro Kawase, Nagoya News Center)

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