Unification Church members accuse Japanese media of bias over Abe killing
Thousands of Unification Church members gathered in Seoul on Thursday to protest what they call discriminatory and unfair Japanese media coverage of their church since former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's assassination.
The suspect in Abe's July 8 shooting, Tetsuya Yamagami, bore a grudge against the church, alleging it bankrupted his mother and blaming Abe for promoting it, according to his social media posts and news reports.
"Stop biased reporting and religious persecution!" demonstrators in the South Korean capital chanted in Korean and Japanese, holding placards reading "Respect religious freedom!" and "Stop hate speech" toward the church.
Longstanding links between the strongly anti-communist church, which critics call a cult, and Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, have hurt the popularity of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government, prompting him to reshuffle his cabinet last week and say the church held no sway over the party.
Founded in South Korea in the 1950s by self-declared messiah Sun Myung Moon and known for its mass weddings, the group has faced criticism for its fundraising and other issues. The church rejects such views and says it is a legitimate religious movement.