Japanese politician Mio Sugita denies alleged links to the Unification Church

Mio Sugita (Mainichi)

TOKYO — Mio Sugita, parliamentary deputy minister for internal affairs and communications, said she had never knowingly been associated with the Unification Church amid allegations that she attended affiliated conferences to the religious group.

“I have never knowingly had any connection with the Unification Church,” she said at a news conference Aug. 15 after her appointment as deputy parliamentary minister about her relationship with the Federation of Families for World Peace and Unification.

Allegations surfaced that Sugita gave a speech at a facility run by the church group in New York City in August 2016, as well as at a symposium hosted by a Unification Church-affiliated group in the prefecture. from Kumamoto in April 2019.

During the press conference, Sugita said of the 2019 event that she “didn’t know the host was an affiliated group” and that “still can’t be confirmed.” She explained, “Although it was pointed out that an executive member (of the host group) is connected to the Unification Church, I was unaware of this at the time of the event.”

She added that “no one can confirm this is an affiliated group ‘based on executive involvement’ and “I don’t know how to define an ‘affiliated group,’ so I don’t can’t comment further.”

Sugita was also asked about her 2018 contribution to a monthly magazine which claimed that sexual minorities such as those in the LGBTQ community are “unproductive” because their unions do not produce children. She said, “I have never rejected diversity or discriminated against sexual minorities,” and added, “There are many people in the LGBT community who have become my supporters after reading the contribution. There is nothing incompatible with the goal of the Kishida administration (to value individuality and diversity).”

(Japanese original by Nozomi Gemma, Policy News Department)

Jerry B. Hatch