Security police tackle Tetsuya Yamagami, who is accused of shooting former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara, Japan, on Friday. Photo by Asahi Shimbun/EPA-EFE
July 11 (BP) — The mother of the man accused of assassinating former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a member of the group commonly known as the Unification Church, which the suspect mentioned as a motivation for the attack.
Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japanese chapter of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, said at a news conference Monday that the mother of Tetsuya Yamagami attends meetings at the church monthly.
Yamagami, who was arrested shortly after Abe was killed on Friday, has told police his mother made a large donation to a religious group 20 years ago, which damaged the family finances. He accused Abe of supporting the organization. Police have not confirmed the name of the group.
In a Saturday statement, the federation expressed “shock and grief” over Abe’s slaying.
“As an organization, Family Federation stresses the value of family in building a peaceful society,” the statement read. “We condemn this act of violence. Guns have no place in our religious beliefs or practices.”
The group was founded in 1954 in South Korea by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon as the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. Tanaka said neither Yamagami nor Abe were members.
Meanwhile, Nara prefecture police said Monday that security cameras spotted a vehicle similar to Yamagami’s at one of the group’s facilities near his home the day before the shooting.
Nearby residents said they heard a “loud noise” in the early morning hours at the time the minivan was there.
Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, died at Nara Medical University Hospital after he was shot while giving a campaign speech in front of a small crowd on a street in Nara. The death shocked Japan, which seeks a rare number of gun deaths because of its laws against weapons.
Police said Yamagami, a former member of the Japanese military, made the weapon and multiple types of other guns with iron pipes that were wrapped in adhesive tape. Authorities found guns with three, five and six iron pipes as barrels.