Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Shinzo Abe Surprised at Measures Against Harmful Religious Practices

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People visit a floral tribute stand in front of Kintetsu Railway Co.’s Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara to mourn Abe on Sunday.

The man accused of fatally shooting former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told his lawyers he was surprised that measures against harmful religious practices had been implemented in the wake of the incident.

Monday marked two years since Abe was killed while delivering a stump speech in Nara ahead of a House of Councillors election. However, most of the statements by suspect Tetsuya Yamagami have still not been made public.

Yamagami, 43, has been indicted over the murder and on other four charges. The lay judge trial scheduled to take place in Nara District Court is likely to begin next year or later, according to his lawyers.

After his arrest, Yamagami told police that he held a grudge against the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, formerly known as the Unification Church, to which his mother had donated about ¥100 million.

“I tried to assault the leader of the organization, but I couldn’t,” Yamagami reportedly said. “I thought Mr. Abe was connected to the organization.”

Yamagami has been held at the Osaka Detention House in Osaka, where he reportedly reads newspapers and magazines daily. His lawyers have not made public his remarks on the incident, due to concerns over potentially influencing lay judges, but they have revealed some of his statements regarding the Unification Church.

“I didn’t expect [the shooting] to lead to the current situation,” Yamagami reportedly said to his lawyers in June.

The organization came under increasing criticism for pursuing large donations, leading to the enactment of the law to regulate the unscrupulous solicitation of donations. The government also asked the Tokyo District Court to issue a dissolution order for the Unification Church, and the connections between the organization and politicians were also questioned.