Fake news about Abe’s assassination

When new religious movements are victims of violence, “it’s their fault” campaigns are immediately launched by their opponents.

by Massimo Introvigné

The surroundings of the north entrance of Kintetsu Yamato-Saidaiji station in Nara, Japan, where Abe was murdered on July 8, 2022, several hours after the crime. Credits.

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“To call a deer a horse” is a proverbial expression in Chinese. Zhao Gao was the corrupt prime minister of the Second Emperor of Unified China, who ruled at the end of the third century BCE. Zhao planned to usurp the throne but needed to know who at court would support him. So he presented the emperor with a deer and called it a horse. When the emperor objected that it was indeed a deer, he asked the courtiers to confirm that it was a horse. Many did, because they were afraid of Zhao. He had those who insisted the stag was a stag beheaded and proceeded with his coup.

“Calling a deer to a horse”, or reversing the meaning of words for malicious purposes, is often practiced today to discriminate against religious minorities. When they become victims of crime, it is implied that it is their fault. Victims are called aggressors, and vice versa. It’s reminiscent of an old strategy of scam lawyers defending rapists. They invariably blame the raped woman, who may not have dressed modestly enough.

On June 16, 2022, in South Korea, a man killed his ex-wife and the wife of his ex-brother-in-law, seriously injuring the latter. Although personal reasons may have been his primary motivation, he claimed he committed the crime because the wife was a member of a new religious movement called Shincheonji. 24 hours before the crime, the assassin had consulted the Heresy Research Center, an organization specializing in the fight against groups he considers heretical “sects”.

The Center did not suggest that the man commit murder, but stirred up his hatred against Shincheonji. After the crime, the Center called a press conference claiming that the murderer was indeed the victim, and that Shincheonji was responsible: if his wife had not joined Shincheonji, they said, the poor man would not have had to spend the rest of his life in prison. , a likely outcome of his case.

Shincheonji worshipers protest after the June 16 assassination in South Korea.
Shincheonji worshipers protest after the June 16 assassination in South Korea.

On January 3, 2019, a teenager entered the premises of the Church of Scientology, of which his mother was a member, in Sydney, Australia, and fatally injured a Scientologist with a knife. At trial, he was later found not criminally responsible because two experts declared him to be schizophrenic, but real paranoiacs have real enemies. Although he quarreled with his mother for different reasons, the propaganda depicting Scientology as evil may have also excited his weak spirit. Again, anti-Scientologists told the media, without shedding a tear for the victim, that Scientology was to blame for allegedly creating the hostility between mother and son.

Whatever one might think of Shincheonji or Scientology, these are clear cases of victim-to-perpetrator. And now we have the most spectacular case of this twisted logic of them all, the murder of Shinzo Abe. Consider five basic facts. First, the assassin, Tetsuya Yamagami, was not and had never been a member of the Unification Church, now called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

Second, her mother joined the Unification Church in 1998 and is still there. She declared bankruptcy in 2002, a fact that Abe’s killer and her brother-in-law blamed on excessive donations she made to the Church. After the brother-in-law complained, two church members repaid 50% of the donations in installments.

Third, Shinzo Abe was also not a member of the Unification Church. He participated by video at one event in 2021, and messaged at another event in 2022, from the Universal Peace Federation, an NGO founded by Unification Church leaders. Just like Donald Trump, former European Commission Presidents José Manuel Barroso and Romano Prodi, and dozens of other politicians of all persuasions.

Fourth, his mother’s bankruptcy, as he himself stated, caused Yamagami to hate the Unification Church. However, bankruptcy occurred in 2002 and Yamagami killed Abe in 2022, twenty years later. What sparked Yamagami’s killing spree in 2022, and not before? We know for a fact that Yamagami followed the hate campaigns against the Unification Church that were prevalent in Japan. He interacted on social media with other enemies of the Church.

The day before Abe’s murder, Yamagami wrote a letter to Kazuhiro Yonemoto. Although Yonemoto is credited with having opposed the practice of kidnapping Unification Church members in the past for the purpose of deprogramming or “deconverting” them, he remains an opponent of the Church. Yamagami interacted with the anti-Unification Church milieu and was exposed to hate speech against the Church, which could have easily made his head spin weak.

Fifth, before killing Abe, Yamagami had planned to assassinate Ms. Moon, the leader of the Family Federation, and he tested his weapon by shooting at a building that had once been used as the Family Federation’s church.

Ms. Hak Ja Han Moon: Yamagami also wanted to assassinate him.
Ms. Hak Ja Han Moon: Yamagami also wanted to assassinate him.

Yamagami hated the Church, and this hatred was fueled by the hate speech of anti-Unification-Church activists. To hide their responsibility, they blamed the Unification Church, which was clearly a victim, as if they were the perpetrator.

Twisting words has disastrous consequences. After calling a deer a horse, Zhao Gao had short-lived success but ended up causing the ruin of the Qin dynasty and being killed. Labeling victims as abusers and abusers as victims has similar destructive social potential – those who manipulate the facts of Abe’s assassination to advance their anti-Unification Church agenda should perhaps stop to reflect.

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