Suspect in Abe Shooting Held a ‘Grudge.’ Scrutiny Falls on a Church.


TOKYO — When Tetsuya Yamagami was arrested after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, he informed the police he had “a grudge” in opposition to a “sure group.” However the authorities haven’t recognized the group or defined its connection to Mr. Abe.

Scrutiny, amid a swirl of Japanese media hypothesis, is now targeted on the Unification Church, the spiritual group identified for its mass weddings and efforts to domesticate relationships with conservative political events worldwide.

At a information convention on Monday, church officers detailed the group’s ties to Mr. Yamagami’s mom, describing her as a longtime member. She had joined the church in 1998 however misplaced contact with the group for a protracted interval earlier than returning earlier this yr, Tomihiro Tanaka, the top of the church’s Japan department, mentioned.

The church, which didn’t particularly establish itself because the group cited by the police, mentioned it had no data indicating that Mr. Yamagami had ever been a member and was not conscious of any threats directed by him at its members. The church additionally mentioned it had had no direct relationship with Mr. Abe, though it had interacted with different lawmakers via an affiliated group.

The police have revealed few particulars about Mr. Yamagami, 41, who has been charged with homicide. Mr. Abe was shot from behind with a selfmade gun in Nara on Friday whereas delivering a speech for a candidate two days earlier than a parliamentary election.

After his arrest, Mr. Yamagami informed police that he had served in Japan’s army. An individual with his similar identify and date of start served three years within the nation’s Navy.

Throughout a information briefing on Monday, the police mentioned that Mr. Yamagami had confessed to testing an improvised weapon the day earlier than the capturing of Mr. Abe. The police mentioned Friday that a number of improvised weapons had been seized from Mr. Yamagami’s residence.

The capturing shook a nation the place gun violence is uncommon, however throughout a wake for Mr. Abe on Monday evening at certainly one of Tokyo’s largest Buddhist temples, there have been few indicators of elevated safety. Mourners coming in off the road deposited flowers in entrance of a photograph of Mr. Abe. Close by, a stream of dignitaries in black fits and attire walked in from close by practice stations or arrived by automotive at a guarded gate, although nobody appeared to be imposing strict safety checks.

Mourners gathered someday after Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Social gathering swept to victory in elections for the Higher Home of Parliament. On Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida praised Mr. Abe’s management and pledged that the newly empowered L.D.P. would work to appreciate his long-held objectives, together with revising the nation’s pacifist Structure.

The Japanese individuals had issued a “rousing name,” for the celebration to make sure Mr. Abe’s legacy, he mentioned. “It’s insufferable that an amazing chief beloved by all of the world had his life out of the blue robbed by violence.”

The Unification Church was based in South Korea in 1954 by the Rev. Solar Myung Moon. It later expanded abroad, constructing a community of newspapers and civic organizations that it used to develop ties with conservative political events world wide. It additionally generated questions on its recruiting and enterprise practices. Within the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, the group confronted lawsuits over soliciting funds and prices of “brainwashing” by dad and mom who mentioned their youngsters had been compelled to affix.

The church established its department in Japan within the late Fifties, and it quickly discovered widespread trigger with right-wing Japanese politicians, together with Mr. Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, over their shared animosity for Communism.

Ties between church-affiliated organizations and members of the ruling L.D.P. developed within the following many years because the church grew in dimension and Japanese followers generated billions of {dollars} in revenue for the group.

However the Unification Church’s affect in Japan has dwindled in current many years, and it has had problem recruiting new members since a schism following Mr. Moon’s demise in 2012, mentioned Yoshihide Sakurai, a professor of sociology and faith at Hokkaido College who has studied the Unification Church in Japan.

Teams associated to the church have continued to draw some prime Japanese lawmakers to their occasions.

In 2021, Mr. Abe and different politicians from a number of international locations, together with the US, addressed a gathering in South Korea run by a Unification Church-affiliated group. Talking by video feed, Mr. Abe praised the group for its “focus and emphasis on household values.”

And in 2022, throughout a convention in Seoul selling peace on the Korean Peninsula, a speaker delivered transient written remarks on Mr. Abe’s behalf. They expressed hope the assembly would “open up new paths for peaceable reconciliation.”

Information experiences of Mr. Abe’s connection to the 2021 occasion drew criticism in Japan from the nation’s Communist Social gathering and different teams, together with a lawyer’s affiliation that has mounted a decades-long marketing campaign in opposition to the Unification Church’s actions in Japan.

In an open letter to Mr. Abe, the affiliation, The Nationwide Community of Attorneys In opposition to Non secular Gross sales, requested the previous prime minister to sever his affiliation with the church and its affiliated organizations, writing that “cooperating with and supporting these occasions is completely not a good suggestion.”

His connections to the Unification Church had been in all probability “very weak,” Mr. Sakurai mentioned, describing Mr. Abe’s remarks to the group as “strange work for politicians who wished to gather votes.”

The church was simply certainly one of many spiritual organizations with right-wing political opinions that Mr. Abe and his fellow conservatives within the L.D.P. have counted on for political assist, mentioned Levi McLaughlin, an affiliate professor at North Carolina State College who research the connection between politics and faith in Japan.

“None of that is uncommon, and it’s actually not unique,” he mentioned, including that it simply “occurs that the church shares loads of the coverage platforms of the L.D.P. and particularly of Abe.”

Motoko Wealthy and Hikari Hida contributed reporting.

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