Japan's PM apologizes for LDP links to former Unification Church

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio has apologized for alleged links between politicians of the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the former Unification Church.

Now known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the religious group has been accused of shady practices. It has been in the spotlight since former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo was shot and killed by a man who reportedly said he believed Abe was close to the group. The suspect told police the group bankrupted his mother.

Kishida spoke to reporters on Wednesday after completing his self-isolation period following a COVID-19 infection.

The prime minister said he apologizes sincerely as the LDP head in response to the voices of concern and suspicion from the public. Some LDP lawmakers, including those serving as Cabinet ministers, are believed to have had close ties with the religious group.

Kishida said he ordered the lawmakers of his party to clarify their individual relationships with the group and disclose the results. He added that he also ordered the LDP's secretary-general to make it a basic stance of the party to sever ties with the group.

He said the LDP would provide explanations, and added that his government will work to help the victims of the church's dubious marketing practices.