But Abe’s death and the suspect’s alleged family troubles with the group have shone a spotlight on the relationship as the nation seeks answers to one of its worst incidents of political violence since the second world war.
Jeffrey J Hall, an expert on nationalist activism at Kanda University of International Studies, said the Unification Church had been involved in conservative politics in Japan since Abe’s grandfather’s era.
“This group has been one of the bases of the LDP’s campaigns since that time in the cold war when the church was a reliable ally against communism,” Hall said. “They worked with the Kishi faction of the LDP, which later became the Abe faction.”
Kimiaki Nishida, an expert on cult psychology at Rissho University, said the Japanese establishment and media had long turned a blind eye to political links to Moonies. “This is not a religious group but a cult that is hungry for money. But no one touched on the issue,” he said.