Unification Church confirms suspect Abe’s mother is a member According to Reuters
© Reuters. Tetsuya Yamagami, suspected of killing former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is escorted by a police officer as he is taken to prosecutors, at Nara-nishi police station in Nara, western Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo on July 10, 2022. cre . is required
By Kiyoshi Takenaka, Ju-min Park and Tim Kelly
TOKYO (Reuters) – A police investigation into the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe led the head of the country’s branch of the United Church to confirm on Monday that the mother of the suspect in the killing who is a member.
Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old unemployed man, has been identified by police as the suspect who approached Abe and opened fire during a campaign speech on Friday.
The Kyodo news agency, citing an investigative source, said Yamagami believed Abe was promoting a religious group to which his mother had donated “a huge amount of money”.
The suspect told police that his mother subsequently went bankrupt, the Yomiuri newspaper and other media reported.
Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japanese branch of the World Federation of Families for Peace and Unification, known as the Unification Church, confirmed to reporters in Tokyo that the suspect’s mother was a member of the family. church member. He declined to comment on her donations.
Tanaka said neither Abe nor the suspected killer are members. Abe is also not an adviser to the church, he said.
The Unification Church was founded in Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed savior and staunch anti-communist.
It has gained global media attention with its mass weddings where thousands of couples get married at the same time.
Church branches include daily newspapers in Korea, Japan, and the United States. Moon runs a business empire and founded the conservative Washington Times.
Reuters was unable to contact Yamagami’s mother and could not determine if she belonged to any other religious organizations.
Abe, who has conservative views, appeared at an event organized by a church-affiliated organization last September and delivered a speech praising the link’s work towards peace on the internet. Korean island, according to the church’s website.
For years, critics said the church was a cult and questioned what they said was financially murky. The church rejects such views and says it is a legitimate religious movement.
Police have confirmed that the suspect said he had a grudge against a specific organization, but they did not name it.
Reuters visited Yamagami’s mother’s home in Nara on Monday. The white house is tucked away at the end of a quiet alley in an affluent neighborhood, one stop on the train from where Abe was shot down. She doesn’t seem to be at home. Two uniformed policemen sat outside in an unmarked car.
A next-door neighbor, a woman who only gave her last name Ishii, said she did not know the family and only greeted the mother.
“I don’t see her much, I say hello, but that’s all,” she said, adding that the mother seems to live a quiet life.
Another neighbor, an 87-year-old woman, who only gave her last name Tanida, said the mother had lived alone for a long time.
Yamagami’s mother first joined the church around 1998 but stopped attending between 2009 and 2017, Tanaka said. About two to three years ago, she re-established communication with church members, and for the last half year or so, she’s been attending church events about once a month, he said.
Tanaka said the church only learned of the mother’s financial difficulties after talking to people close to her. He said he did not know what caused the difficulties.
Nara police on Monday said they found obvious bullet holes at a church-run facility, and that the suspect told them he fired live ammunition at the facility a day before shooting. Abe.
Tanaka said Abe has sent messages to events organized by church branches and expressed support for the country’s global peace movement.
Moon, who speaks fluent Japanese, founded an anti-communist group in Japan in the late 1960s, the International League to Win Communism, and built relationships with Japanese politicians, according to church publications.
Nobusuke Kishi, Abe’s grandfather and former prime minister, was the honorary executive chairman at a group party hosted by Moon, the International League to Win Communism said on its website.
Moon died in 2012. The church has about 600,000 members in Japan, out of a global total of 10 million, a church spokesman said.