A state minister of the Cabinet Office faces calls to resign over his close ties to the much-criticized Unification Church, the leader of which he met five times.
“I met her (Hak Ja Han Moon) five times, I believe,” said Shozo Kudo, a Lower House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, at a Lower House special committee session on Nov. 16, in response to a question from Nobuko Motomura of the Japanese Communist Party.
Kudo’s responsibilities include overseeing the Consumer Affairs Agency, which is affiliated with the Cabinet Office.
The agency has jurisdiction over a new law for preventing unjust solicitation of donations, which was enacted in December after the shooting death of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe drew public scrutiny to the massive donations sought by the Unification Church.
Motomura called for Kudo’s resignation, saying that he is not the right person for the job.
Kudo, 58, is known to have had ties with the Unification Church, now formally called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.
He attended an event organized by the Unification Church in 2019 and also participated in meetings held by affiliated organizations several times.
Asked when he first became involved with the church, Kudo said that he first met with the secretary-general of the Aichi prefectural chapter of the Federation for World Peace, an affiliate of the Unification Church, who visited his office a few months before the 2012 Lower House election.
During subsequent elections, he received encouragement from senior church members at his campaign office, and church members helped his campaign by seeking support from voters through phone calls and other activities, Kudo admitted.
Concerning his participation in meetings of groups affiliated with the church, he said, “I deeply regret that these were thoughtless acts.”
Motomura pressed Hanako Jimi, minister for consumer affairs and food safety, to advise Prime Minister Fumio Kishida that Kudo, one of her deputies, is not suitable for his post.
“I will refrain from commenting on the issue because personnel affairs are the exclusive prerogative of the prime minister,” Jimi said. “We will continue to ensure that we sever ties with the organization in question.”
Kudo, who is in his fourth term, belongs to the LDP’s Aso faction. He was elected from the Aichi No. 4 district.