Suspect sent letter to blogger hinting at Abe killing

The Yomiuri Shimbun
An envelope containing a letter from Tetsuya Yamagami.

The suspect in the fatal shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sent a letter hinting that he would kill Abe to a blogger critical of the religious group widely known as the Unification Church, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, sent the letter from Okayama City to the blogger who lives in the Chugoku region. The letter expresses Yamagami’s strong resentment toward the group officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, which Yamagami’s mother is an adherent of, and states that Abe “is not his original enemy.”

The Nara prefectural police are aware of the letter and intend to investigate how his resentment toward the group was directed toward Abe.

Abe attended a speech meeting in Okayama on the evening of July 7, the day before he was killed in Nara. Yamagami visited the meeting venue but gave up on attacking Abe then. The time of the postmark indicates the letter may have been posted on his way to the venue.

The letter was printed on a sheet of A4 paper. It did not give the sender’s name but the envelope also contained a copy of an agreement reached when the religious group returned ¥50 million, a portion of his mother’s donations, to the Yamagami family.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A copy of the agreement that was sent with the letter.

Yamagami’s full name and his address at that time were also written on the agreement.

The man who received the letter from Yamagami runs a blog that criticizes the religious group’s activities. Yamagami revealed in the letter that he was a reader of the blog and wrote about his background, saying, “My quarrel against the Unification Church goes back about 30 years.”

Yamagami also wrote, “I’ve thought bitterly about him [Abe], but he is not my original enemy. Abe is just one of the most influential Unification Church sympathizers in the real world.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tetsuya Yamagami’s name was written on the agreement.

“I no longer have time to think about the political meaning and consequences that would result from Abe’s death,” he said.

Yamagami told investigators that he targeted Abe because he thought the former prime minister was connected with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. The police believe he may have been trying to spur criticism of the group by killing Abe.

The man who received the letter operates the blog under his own name and listed his address. He has never met Yamagami, but the letter stated that Yamagami was a reader and had posted in the comments section.

The blogger found the letter in his home mailbox on July 13, five days after the murder. It is believed that the letter was delivered several days earlier.

“What he [Yamagami] did is unforgivable,” the man told The Yomiuri Shimbun. “I think he probably had no one to talk to and wanted to express his feelings to someone at the end. He may have thought I was his friend because I operate the blog he posted on.”

The blogger wrote about the problems experienced by the children of the group’s believers. “I understand the suffering of believers’ children,” he said. “But I wish he’d consulted with me directly before going that far.”