January 13 2023
NARA – Prosecutors on Friday indicted a man on charges of murder and violating the firearms control law for fatally shooting former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during an election campaign in the western Japan city of Nara in July.
Following mental examinations, the prosecutors in Nara Prefecture concluded that Tetsuya Yamagami, 42, is competent to stand trial. His detention period for the examination expired on Tuesday.
Yamagami has told investigators that he held a grudge against the Unification Church, a religious group known for its mass weddings and aggressive donation solicitations, and targeted Abe because Abe was a grandson of former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, who helped the religious group establish a Japanese chapter, according to investigative sources.
He said his mother’s large financial donations, totaling around 100 million yen ($765,000), to the church left his family in financial ruin, the sources said.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving leader, died on July 8 after being shot at close range while giving a campaign speech two days ahead of the House of Councillors election. Yamagami was arrested on the spot.
Homemade guns were confiscated from the shooting site and Yamagami’s residence, the sources said earlier.
Abe was prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020 before stepping down due to health problems.
Since the incident, the religious group, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, has come under renewed scrutiny. Links between some ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers and the church have also been exposed, dragging down support ratings for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet.
The government is also inquiring into the church’s activities to assess whether it has systematically solicited massive, financially ruinous donations from its members and their families.