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Japan's Trending Words in Our 2022 Stories: 'Second Generation Religion' (宗教2世)

Relive 2022 with the trending words of the year! Coming in at 4th place is a phrase reflecting the debate in Japan about the nature of the Unification Church. 

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As 2022 comes to an end, JAPAN Forward has picked up 5 top trending words to relive some of the year's main stories with our readers. 

In our previous story, we looked at No. 5 on our list: Bad Weak Yen (warui enyasu, 悪い円安), and its economic impacts on people's lives. 

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Today, we look at another widely discussed theme in Japan, with our trending word No. 4: Second Generation Religion (shukyo nisei, 宗教2世). 

4. Second Generation Religion (shukyo nisei, 宗教2世) 

On July 8, Shinzo Abe was assassinated in Nara during a stump speech. The police apprehended the prime suspect almost immediately after the shooting. He was Tetsuya Yamagami. 

Yamagami told investigators that his primary motive in shooting Shinzo Abe was his perceived connection from giving a speech to The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The organization is commonly known as the Unification Church, and its members are sometimes referred to as "Moonies," after the organization's founder.

Yamagami talked of having a "grudge" towards the Unification Church. He said his mother was a church believer and that the family had been bankrupted from donations she made to the church when he was young. 

Tetsuya Yamagami is taken into custody shortly after the assassination of former PM Shinzo Abe.

It was through this investigation that the term "second generation religion" began to appear. It indicates children who were born into a family of believers and felt pressured by those beliefs. 

We covered the first reports on Yamagami, as news started to trickle out. 

The Unification Church confirmed early on that Yamagami's mother was in fact a member of its congregation. 

Suspected connections with the Unification Church also brought shadows to the cabinet reshuffle that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida carried out following the upper house election. We followed the new cabinet announcement and its implications below. 

Signboard of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (former Unification Church) (© Sankei by Ikue Mio)

At the same time, the political debate over the Unification Church has led some to worry that freedom of religion is being stifled. Tsutomu Nishioka makes this argument in his column.  

So far, the themes covered by 2022's trending words have spanned religion, the economy. Will a political theme be next? 

Check in tomorrow for Trending Word No. 3 on our list. 

Author: JAPAN Forward

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