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TOKYO – The Japanese government on Thursday approved a bill to tighten rules on religious donations after scrutinizing controversial fundraising practices by the Unification Church.

Claims that the church pressures believers to donate large amounts have since been debated in Congress. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated by a man outraged by the sect’s alleged practices.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida submitted a bill. Relations between politicians and the Unification Church.

A Justice Ministry official confirmed that the bill was approved by the cabinet on Thursday night and will now be debated in parliament.

The proposed law would allow religious adherents and their families to demand the return of donations, and prohibit religious groups from soliciting funds through coercive means, including tying donations to spiritual salvation.

Religious people can face up to a year in prison or a fine if they are convinced they will pressure their followers to donate.

Man accused of killing Abe reportedly resents Unification Church over a large donation his mother bankrupted the family.

The bill also allows dependents of believers to withdraw donations made by relatives.

The church denies pressuring members to make donations.

in October, Kishida ordered a government investigation into the Unification Church, Officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

An investigation could lead to a dissolution order, and the church would lose its status as a tax-exempt religious organization, but may continue to operate.

A survey soon after Abe’s death found that half of the ruling party’s Diet members had ties to the church, and in October The government’s economic revitalization minister resigned, citing sectarian ties.

Founded in South Korea by Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1954, the church is known for mass weddings of believers, sometimes called moonies. AFPMore Japan’s Cabinet backs bill to strengthen religious donation rules

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