Lawmaker admits failing to report attendance to ex-Unification Church meeting

A Japanese ruling party lawmaker has admitted that he attended a meeting held by the religious group widely known as the Unification Church during an election campaign last year, but did not report it to the party.

Tsuruho Yosuke, a Liberal Democratic party member and a former minister in charge of Okinawa and Northern Territories affairs, on Monday acknowledged the content of an article printed in the weekly magazine FRIDAY.

The article says Tsuruho attended the meeting in his constituency of Wakayama Prefecture, western Japan, during the Upper House election campaign last June.

He told reporters that he had not known that the meeting was organized by the group, and he was surprised to find it out at the venue.

Tsuruho said the staff of his office were not aware that he went to the meeting because it was not on his schedule, which was why they did not report his attendance to the party.

He said he is deeply sorry, adding that he reported to the party last week that he attended the meeting and another event related to the group some years ago.

The LDP asked its lawmakers last year to come forward if they had some contacts with the group, which has been criticized for a dubious marketing practice called spiritual sales and soliciting large donations from its followers.