In the bustling city of Zaozhuang, China, a group of high school students inadvertently set the internet ablaze with their unconventional performance.
On October 10, 2023, their portrayal of the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe left audiences in shock. But what stole the show was a banner condemning Japan’s decision to release treated wastewater from the Fukushima power plant. This event, on the surface, was a high school play, yet it would soon lead us down a rabbit hole of intrigue.
The curtain rises on a warm July morning in 2022. Shinzo Abe, Japan’s political heavyweight and longest-serving prime minister, stands in the charming city of Nara. He’s there to endorse a fellow lawmaker running for the National Diet, Japan’s parliament.
Everything seems ordinary until it’s not. Two loud noises, a burst of white smoke, and Abe collapses. Chaos ensues. The assailant, Tetsuya Yamagami, dressed inconspicuously in a grey polo shirt, admits to the shooting just 30 minutes later.
But what could drive a man to target Abe in such a shocking manner? Yamagami’s motive initially appears surreal. He claims Abe was connected to the Unification Church, commonly known as the Moonies – a cult founded by Korean evangelist Reverend Sun Myung Moon.
Yamagami’s life had been marred by tragedy; his mother donated their family’s entire savings to the church, driving the family into destitution. His brother took his own life, and Yamagami himself attempted suicide. In Yamagami’s eyes, Abe, deeply linked to the Moonies, became a symbolic target.
Are the Claims True?
Yet, the unbelievable part of this story? Yamagami’s seemingly far-fetched claims were genuine. The Moonies, a controversial Korean cult with a history of exploiting Japanese war guilt for financial gain, had clandestine ties to Japan’s political elite. Their volunteers had been an underground force, not just for Abe but for many politicians within the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
This revelation sent shockwaves through Japan. People were outraged, not only by the cult’s apparent influence-peddling but by the glaring hypocrisy. Abe was an unapologetic nationalist, eager to restore Japan’s global standing, and now he and his party were entangled in a secretive alliance with a cult notorious for its manipulative tactics.
In a swift response to public anger, the Japanese government requested the dissolution of the Unification Church‘s religious corporation status, which could have significant legal consequences. This decision raised questions not just about the Moonies’ fate in Japan but also in the other 100 countries where they maintain a presence.
What Revealed the Secret?
This story might have forever remained hidden if not for the desperate act of a man who had faced failure at every turn. As Tetsuya Yamagami awaits trial, he may find solace in the fact that his act unwittingly exposed a hidden truth.
A year after Abe’s assassination, the narrative has shifted, painting a picture of tragedy that unfolded over decades, and once-forgotten Moonies are thrust back into the limelight. Japan’s central role in the cult’s operations, the considerable funds they raised, and the human suffering caused by excessive donations are all under scrutiny.
The world watches as the Moonies, long obscured from view, face renewed examination, and their secrets unravel for all to see.
In this intricate tale of a high school play gone awry, we’re confronted with the human drama that simmers beneath the surface of what first appears as an ordinary story – a peculiar and unforeseen exploration of the human spirit, vengeance, and the unexpected intersection of politics and faith.