Abe’s shooter was upset about his mother’s donations to a religious group

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The man who fatally shot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told police he originally planned to attack a leader of a religious group he says pushed his mother to make large donations to the group, investigative sources said on Saturday.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, also admitted he intended to kill Abe, believing he had ties to the group, the sources said.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was pronounced dead on Friday, about five hours after he was shot from behind during a stump speech near a train station in the western city of Nara. Yamagami was arrested at the scene, brandishing a homemade weapon.

Yamagami told police that the day before the deadly shooting, he had traveled to the western city of Okayama, where Abe had also given a campaign speech for Sunday’s House of Councilors election, according to reports. sources.

Lawmakers and voters have also criticized Abe’s killing as shaking the foundations of democracy and exposing flaws in the security of dignitaries.

At a press conference, Tomoaki Onizuka, Nara Prefectural Police Chief, apologized for not preventing the incident and admitted, “It is undeniable that there were security concerns.

Abe died from a haemorrhage, police said, after an autopsy determined there were two gunshot wounds to his upper left arm and neck. There was another neck injury, but it’s unclear how it was caused, they said.

Yamagami denied committing the crime because he opposed Abe’s political beliefs, police say.

Police searched his home on Friday, finding items believed to be explosives and homemade firearms, including weapons similar to the weapon used in the attack, they said.

Yamagami, who was unemployed, had previously worked for a manufacturer in the Kansai region around fall 2020, but quit in May this year, according to a staffing agency employee. He was previously a member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force for about three years until August 2005.

Amid blistering heat and heavy rain, nearly 500 people at one point lined up at a location in Nara near the scene of the attack to pay their respects, with mourners leaving flowers, drinks and other items.

Among them was Shihori Kimura, a 17-year-old high school student from Kyoto, also in western Japan. “For me, Mr. Abe is the one I think of when someone mentions the Prime Minister. I wanted to thank him for his work for so long. Political expression should not be stopped by violence,” he said. she declared.

In the afternoon in Tokyo, a car carrying Abe’s body arrived at his home. His wife Akie accompanied the body of her late husband on the drive from Nara.

As the car slowly came to a stop, Akie Abe bowed to the more than 100 members of the press who crowded outside the residence. Following Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to express his condolences, many LDP deputies came to pay their respects.

Hisashi Hieda, chairman of media company Fujisankei Communications Group, told reporters that Abe’s expression looked like he had always done, even though his head was wrapped in bandages. Hieda joined LDP policy chief Sanae Takaichi and others to meet the car carrying the former prime minister home.

Earlier Saturday, Kishida had a phone conversation with US President Joe Biden, who expressed his condolences.

Biden noted “unshakeable faith in the strength of Japanese democracy,” and the two leaders also discussed how Abe’s legacy would live on as both countries continue the important task of upholding peace and democracy. democracy, according to the White House.

Kishida told reporters after the phone interviews that he conveyed to Biden Japan’s desire to “protect democracy without giving in to violence.”

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