At a Nara police station, the suspect—a 41-year-old named Tetsuya Yamagami—admitted to the shooting barely 30 minutes after pulling the trigger. He then offered a motive that sounded too outlandish to be true: He saw Abe as an ally of the Unification Church, a group better known as the Moonies—the cult founded in the 1950s by the Korean evangelist Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Yamagami said his life had been ruined when his mother gave the church all of the family’s money, leaving him and his siblings so poor that they often didn’t have enough to eat. His brother had committed suicide, and he himself had tried to.

“My prime target was the Unification Church’s top official, Hak Ja Han, not Abe,” he told the police, according to an account published in January in a newspaper called The Asahi Shimbun. He could not get to Han—Moon’s widow—so he shot Abe, who was “deeply connected” to the church, Yamagami said, just as Abe’s grandfather, also a prime minister and renowned political figure in Japan, had been.

Investigators looked into Yamagami’s wild-sounding claims and found, to their alarm, that they were true. After a quick huddle, the police appear to have decided that the Moonie connection was too sensitive to reveal, at least for the moment. It might even affect the outcome of the elections for the Upper House of the Diet, set to take place on July 10. At a press conference on the night of the assassination, a police official would say only that Yamagami had carried out the attack because he “harbored a grudge against a specific group and he assumed that Abe was linked to it.” When reporters clamored for details, the official said nothing.

After the election, the Unification Church confirmed press reports that Yamagami’s mother was a member, and the story quickly took off. The Moonies, it emerged, maintained a volunteer army of campaign workers who had long been a secret weapon not just for Abe but for many other politicians in his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which remains in power under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Later that month, the Japanese tabloid Nikkan Gendai published a list of 111 members of parliament who had connections to the church. In early September 2022, the LDP announced that almost half of its 379 Diet members had admitted to some kind of contact with the Unification Church, whether that meant accepting campaign assistance or paying membership fees or attending church events. According to a survey by The Asahi Shimbun, 290 members of prefectural assemblies, as well as seven prefectural governors, also said they had church ties. The rising numbers exposed a scandal hiding in plain sight: A right-wing Korean cult had a near-umbilical connection to the political party that had governed Japan for most of the past 70 years.

I mean, compared to this the idea that the Chinese own much of the Washington Establishment is much less far-fetched.