The shocking murder of Japan’s former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe by a gunman motivated by anger at the politician’s ties to the controversial Unification Church sparked a massive outcry that amplified long-standing anxieties about religion in Japan. This article surveys reasons for persistent tensions between a Japanese public that tends to reject self-identifying as religious and the influence of religion-affiliated organizations on Japanese politics. It also identifies Abe’s assassination in July 2022 and local-level elections in April 2023 as potential beginning and end points of the latest moral panic about religion in Japan’s public sphere.

You do not currently have access to this content.