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Man held in ex-PM Abe shooting claims family fell apart due to religious group

A vehicle carrying the body of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen departing Nara Medical University Hospital in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, on July 9, 2022. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Fujii)

NARA -- The suspect in the July 8 assassination of ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told investigators that his family disintegrated because of his mother's obsession with a religious group he accuses Abe of promoting.

    Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old former Maritime Self-Defense Force sailor, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder for allegedly shooting Abe during a stump speech in the city of Nara ahead of the July 10 House of Councillors election. Abe, aged 67, was later confirmed dead.

    According to sources close to the investigation, Yamagami has admitted to the allegations against him, stating that he "intended to kill Abe." The suspect cited the name of a religious group and reportedly explained that his family fell apart due to financial issues between the group and his mother. Sources said that Yamagami claims he believes Abe promoted the religious group across Japan, and that he "targeted Abe out of resentment." He has also stated that he does not oppose Abe's political views.

    Nara Prefectural Police have deemed that the suspect strongly intended to kill Abe based on the belief that he is affiliated with the religious group, and is investigating the suspect's specific motives. Police are also carefully looking into any issues between the suspect's family and the religious group.

    Abe's July 8 appearance on behalf of a ruling Liberal Democratic Party election candidate had only been scheduled the day before. Yamagami was quoted as saying, "I learned of Abe's campaign speech on the (candidate's) website. I went to the site by train." Police are also investigating the suspect's movements on the day of the incident.

    (Japanese original by Yuhi Yoshikawa and Mizuki Hayashi, Nara Bureau)

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