Photo/Illutration Lower House Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda on June 15 (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Lower House Speaker Hiroyuki Hosoda, who only recently acknowledged his ties to the Unification Church, served as an adviser for a Japan-South Korea undersea tunnel project pushed by the church, a former lawmaker said.

As of mid-August this year, Hosoda’s name was on the list of advisers posted on the website of the Japan-Korea Tunnel Research Institute.

But as of Sept. 2, Hosoda’s name was not on the list.

Daizo Nozawa, who chairs the institute, which continues to promote the long-stalled tunnel project, said he heard from the institute’s secretariat that Hosoda’s side had asked that his name be removed from the list.

Nozawa is a former Upper House member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The underwater tunnel project was based on the wishes of Sun Myung Moon, the founder of the Unification Church, now formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

The project has been operated by the International Highway Foundation, a group related to the Unification Church.

The Japan-Korea Tunnel Research Institute was established in 1983. It became an NPO in 2004 to host study meetings and lecture events regarding the tunnel project.

Sources related to the church said the institute is connected to the highway foundation.

Nozawa told The Asahi Shimbun, “I know that main members of (the institute) are also members of the Unification Church, but the institute is not an organization of the Unification Church.”

After remaining mum about his connections with the church, Hosoda released a statement on Sept. 29 and acknowledged his ties to the organization. But the statement did not mention his advisory position at the institute.

“There was no invitation, nor a record,” Hosoda’s office said. “We were unable to confirm it, so we did not mention it.”

Opposition lawmakers have criticized Hosoda’s statement as unsatisfactory.

Hosoda said he would release an additional statement within 10 days or so.