Abe shooter says mom bankrupted by religious group

Kyodo News

Posted at Jul 09 2022 04:28 PM

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) steps up to podium to speak to voters in support of his party's candidate during an Upper House election campaign outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station of Kintetsu Railway in Nara, Japan, on July 8, 2022, just before he was shot. The suspect Tetsuya Yamagami (2-R), 41, who was arrested by police, is standing behind of Abe as Abe starts to speak. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) steps up to podium to speak to voters in support of his party's candidate during an Upper House election campaign outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station of Kintetsu Railway in Nara, Japan, on July 8, 2022, just before he was shot. The suspect Tetsuya Yamagami (2-R), 41, who was arrested by police, is standing behind of Abe as Abe starts to speak. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS

The man who fatally shot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told police that he initially planned to attack a leader of a religious group that he believed caused his mother to become bankrupted through donations, investigative sources said Saturday.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, has also admitted that he had intent to kill Abe, believing he had promoted the group in Japan, the sources said. The suspect had repeatedly visited locations where Abe had delivered campaign speeches ahead of Sunday's House of Councillors election.

Abe was pronounced dead Friday, around five hours after being shot from behind during a stump speech near a train station in the western prefecture of Nara. Yamagami was arrested at the scene where he was wielding a homemade gun.

Yamagami has denied he committed the crime because he was opposed to Abe's political beliefs, according to the police.

The police searched his home Friday, finding items that are believed to be explosives and homemade guns, they said.

Yamagami, now unemployed, was working at a manufacturer in the Kansai region from around the autumn of 2020, but he 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 through August 2005.

On Saturday, a car carrying the body of Abe arrived at his home in Tokyo. His wife Akie was in the car from Nara.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visited the home to express his condolences.

Abe died from blood loss, the police said, with an autopsy determining that there were two gunshot wounds, on his upper left arm and neck. There was another neck wound but it is unknown how that was caused, they said.

Kishida had a telephone conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday, with Biden expressing his condolences over the death of Abe, Japan's longest-serving leader.

Biden noted the "unwavering confidence in the strength of Japan's democracy" and the two leaders also discussed how Abe's legacy will live on as the two countries continue the important task of defending peace and democracy, according to the White House.

Kishida told reporters after the phone talks that he had conveyed to Biden Japan's willingness to "protect democracy without yielding to violence."