International

Why assassin may have killed former Japanese Prime Minister

The Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, often known as the Unification Church, purportedly inspired Tetsuya Yamagami, the man suspected of killing former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The name of the Unification Church’s founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who saw himself as the second coming of Christ, is occasionally used in a derogatory colloquialism to refer to members of the organization.

While a Tokyo-based spokesman acknowledged on Sunday that Yamagami’s mother was a member of the church, Japanese police have claimed that Yamagami told them he was motivated by resentment toward the religious organization he blamed for his mother’s financial downfall.

Tetsuya Yamagami, suspected of killing former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is taken to prosecutors in Nara, Japan (Photo source: Reuters) Abe did not belong to the Unification Church, but he did give paid speeches at church-related events, and Unificationists formed a reliable voting bloc for Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.

Abe appeared at an event hosted by an organisation affiliated with the church last September where he delivered a speech praising the affiliate’s work towards peace on the Korean peninsula, according to the church’s website. Yamagami believed Abe had promoted the religious group to which his mother made a “huge donation”, Kyodo news agency has said, citing investigative sources.

Yamagami’s mother is a member of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, also known as the Unification Church, according to Tomihiro Tanaka, head of the Japan division of the organization. He omitted to mention her name.

Tanaka cited the current police inquiry as the reason she would not comment on her donations.

The church has committed to assist law enforcement in their inquiries.

Around 1998, Yamagami’s mother initially joined the church; she stopped going between 2009 and 2017, according to Tanaka.

She re-established contact with church members approximately two to three years ago, and for the past six months or so, she has been attending church functions roughly once a month, according to him.

A fervent anti-communist and self-declared messiah, Sun Myung Moon formed the Unification Church in South Korea in 1954. Because it weds thousands of couples at once in mass weddings, it has attracted media interest on a global scale.

According to the church’s publications, Moon, who spoke fluent Japanese, started an anti-communist political campaign in Japan in the late 1960s and developed relationships with Japanese officials.

2012 saw Moon’s passing. Out of the church’s 10 million members worldwide, Tanaka estimated that there are roughly 600,000 in Japan.

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