Source: Suspect’s family had financial difficulties after mother joined religious group

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tetsuya Yamagami at Nara-Nishi Police Station on Sunday

A man who knows the family of Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspect in the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, said the family had financial difficulties after his mother joined the religious group widely known as the Unification Church.

Yamagami has reportedly told police he had a grudge against the group, which is officially called Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and targeted Abe because he suspected the former prime minister was linked to the group.

According to the man, Yamagami’s father died suddenly when the suspect was young, and the family home was sold after the mother joined the group as she had trouble making ends meet.

The man told The Yomiuri Shimbun that he last saw Yamagami about seven years ago when the suspect’s older brother died. “Why did my brother have to die?” Yamagami said in tears at the funeral, according to the man.

“Yamagami was fond of his mother, but after she joined the group, they drifted apart,” the man said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

The religious group released a statement Wednesday claiming “¥50 million had been refunded to [Yamagami’s] mother over 10 years from 2005 to 2014.”

According to investigative sources, Yamagami’s mother likely donated a total of ¥100 million to the religious group. The group said it is still confirming the total amount that she donated.

A collection of quotes by Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon includes one urging followers to make contributions even if it costs them their lives or their fortunes.

The group’s followers are urged to donate one-tenth of their earnings.

“In reality, though, followers ended up donating more than that, entire fortunes, in many cases,” said Rissho University Prof. Kimiaki Nishida, who interviewed followers in the 1990s for research purposes.