The mother of the suspect involved in the deadly shooting of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly feels sorry for causing trouble for the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, also known as the Unification Church.
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, who was immediately arrested after he shot Abe from behind on July 8, 2022, expressed resentment against the religious group during investigations by the Nara Prefectural Police.
The suspect told the investigators that his mother went bankrupt after he made large donations to the religious group, which ultimately led to the demise of his family.
Before the murder, Yamagami even sent a letter to a blogger who said the Unification Church had ruined his life, “destroyed my family and driven it to bankruptcy.”
Yamagami’s mother reportedly made large donations to the church, of which she has been a member for more than 20 years.
“It’s no exaggeration to say that my experience with it during that time continues to warp my entire life,” Yamagami wrote in a letter.
According to Yamagami’s uncle, his cousin would call for help if his mother left her children hungry and alone while she went to church. He said the mother donated 100 million yen (then about $1 million) to the church.
After going bankrupt in 2002, wife kept on donating to the Church in smaller quantities, under the principle of “world peace and unification”.
On July 11, the Church issued a press release stating that donation amounts are determined by individual members.
In Yamagami’s letter, he accused Abe of supporting the Church.
After the revelation, Yamagami’s mother, who has been staying at his uncle’s house since the shooting, apologized for causing trouble for the religious group at a recent hearing in the Nara District Attorney’s Office.
Founded in South Korea by Rev. Sun Myung Moon in 1954, the Unification Church opened its first overseas branch in Japan about five years later. The church had developed close bonds to the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party, which Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi formed.
The Japanese branch eventually became the Church’s main source of income.
Over the years, the church has earned controversy for its involvement in business dealings and politics, with some critics accusing it of being a dangerous cult
As Yagami’s statements put the controversial church back in the spotlight, Unification Church Japan representative Susumu Sato expressed concern that church members could become scapegoats for Abe’s death.
While he admitted that some members encouraged followers to donate excessively, he claimed that donors were motivated primarily by faith.
Featured image fish VOICE of America