Tetsuya Yamagami, the man arrested for the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, told police he held “a grudge” against a religious group he believed the leader had promoted.
Yamagami, 41, allegedly told authorities that his mother went bankrupt after making a “huge donation” to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, also known as the Unification Church.
Nara Prefectural Police said the suspect blamed the religious group for his mother’s financial troubles intends to kill Abe is based on the assumption that the former prime minister belonged to the Unification Church.
“My mother became involved in a religious group and I resented it,” Yamagami said quoted as said.
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Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japanese branch of the Unification Church, confirmed Monday that Yamagami’s mother is one of its members. He also noted that Yamagami and Abe are not members.
The suspect’s mother reportedly became a member of the church in 1998 before leaving bankrupt in 2002. She stopped attending from 2009 to 2017, but reconnected with other church members about two to three years ago. According to Tanaka, she has attended Church meetings and events about once a month for the past six months
Tanaka reportedly refused to comment on how much the suspect’s mother had donated and denied that she was forced by the church to donate money.
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On Monday, Nara police said they discovered bullet holes at a church-run facility. Yamagami reportedly admitted firing the day before Abe’s practice rounds fatally shot in the chest and neck while addressing a campaign rally in the Japanese city of Nara on Friday.
Several improvised weapons were confiscated from Yamagami’s home, police said on Friday. The gun he reportedly shot Abe with was a double-barreled, homemade weapon that measured about 16 inches long and 7 inches wide.
While the Unification Church said it had no direct relationship with the former Japanese leader, Tanaka admitted Abe expressed support for his global peace movement.
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Abe previously spoke at an event hosted by an organization affiliated with the Unification Church last September. Politicians from other countries, including the US, were also reportedly involved in the event. Abe gave a speech praising the organization for its “focus and emphasis on family values.” Meanwhile, other Church member organizations reportedly continue to attract various Japanese lawmakers to their events.
In 1954, the Unification Church in South Korea was founded by Sun Myung Moon, who was said to be an anti-communist and a self-proclaimed messiah.
The Church established other overseas branches in the late 1950s, including its Japanese branch. found the church “common cause” with right-wing politicians in Japan, like Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi.
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About 600,000 people in Japan are members of the Church and have reportedly helped raise billions of dollars in revenue. Moon helped create a before his death in 2012, a multi-billion dollar corporate empire with companies such as the Washington Times, United Press International and the New York Hotel in Manhattan.
Critics and former members have identified the church as a cult; However, the church has dismissed previous allegations and claims as legitimate.
An investigation into Yamagami’s background and motives is currently underway.
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