Suspect in Abe shooting has debts of ¥1 million

A man who looks like Tetsuya Yamagami is seen in this still image from a security camera in Okayama on July 7.

The suspect in the fatal shooting of Shinzo Abe was more than ¥1 million in debt when he attacked the former prime minister, investigative sources have revealed.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, had been spending money on materials to make weapons since last autumn, and the Nara prefectural police are investigating his financial situation prior to the incident.

After leaving the Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2005, Yamagami flitted between jobs as a part-timer and temporary worker. He had worked as a forklift driver at a factory in Kyoto Prefecture since October 2020 as a temp, but quit in May due to poor health. Since then, Yamagami is believed to have been unemployed and had no income.

According to the investigative sources, the police made inquiries at financial institutions and consumer finance firms and learned that Yamagami had about ¥200,000 left in his bank account and owed more than ¥1 million in loans at the time of the shooting.

Yamagami told the police that he “started making weapons in autumn last year.” The police found several handmade guns, an electronic scale, a blender and other tools at his home. Yamagami told the police that he used them “to make guns and live cartridges.”

Yamagami’s monthly salary as a temporary worker was about ¥200,000, and the monthly rent for his apartment was in the ¥30,000 range.

The police think most of the money he borrowed went toward making weapons, and that he may have wanted to attack Abe before his money ran out.

Letter mailed from Okayama

Yamagami has confirmed to the police he sent a letter from Okayama City on July 7, the day before the attack.

Kazuhiro Yonemoto, 71, a writer and blogger critical of the Unification Church, received a letter on a sheet of A4 paper in which Yamagami expressed strong resentment toward the religious group officially called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and also hinted that he would kill Abe.

Yamagami told the police he sent the letter to Yonemoto because they had exchanged messages on his blog in the past. The police have seized the letter from Yonemoto.

The police found text data identical to the letter sent to Yonemoto, who lives in Matsue, on a seized computer.

The police suspect Yamagami sent the letter before going to the venue of a campaign event that Abe had been scheduled to attend.

The venue is located about 1.3 kilometers east of JR Okayama Station. A security camera at a nearby convenience store showed a man believed to be Yamagami putting a letter into a mailbox there.

The Yomiuri Shimbun obtained footage from a security camera in a shopping district located about 1.1 kilometers east of the station showing a man who looks like Yamagami walking in the direction of the venue at around 5:40 p.m. on July 7.

The police suspect Yamagami posted the letter before going to the campaign event, which started at 7 p.m.

The police found that Yamagami checked Abe’s schedule in Okayama several times on his smartphone from July 3.

A House of Councillors election candidate posted the schedule on social media on June 30.

Yamagami has told the police that he learned about Abe’s speech in Okayama City on the internet.