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Jess Frampton

When Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reshuffled his cabinet for the first time since former PM Shinzo Abe’s assassination earlier this summer, it was a response to his falling approval rating. His government was struggling to tame rising COVID infections and acute inflation.

But it was also seen as damage control for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s ties to the controversial Unification Church. Kishida fired cabinet ministers linked to the cult-like religious movement born in South Korea whose members are known as Moonies (after founder Sun Myung Moon).

Although the PM also promised only to appoint future cabinet members who agree to review their relationship with the church, it wasn’t enough. After his popularity plummeted 16 percentage points in just a month to 36%, its lowest level since he took power, Kishida this week demanded all cabinet members review their past ties to the religious group.

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