Life destroyed by mom’s faith, says homicide suspect of former Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

The brazen assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with a hand-crafted gun shocked a nation unused to high-profile political violence.

But there was one other shock within the weeks for the reason that homicide as particulars have emerged about an alleged murderer who was well-off till his mom’s large donations to the controversial Unification Church left him poor, uncared for and stuffed with rage.

Some Japanese have expressed understanding, even sympathy, for the 41-year-old suspect, particularly these of an analogous age who could really feel pangs of recognition linked to their very own struggling throughout three many years of financial malaise and social turmoil.

There have been strategies on social media that care packages ought to be despatched to suspect Tetsuya Yamagami’s detention centre to cheer him up. And greater than 7,000 individuals have signed a petition requesting prosecutorial leniency for Yamagami, who advised police that he killed Abe, considered one of Japan’s strongest and divisive politicians, due to his ties to an unnamed spiritual group broadly believed to be the Unification Church.

Experts say the case has additionally illuminated the plight of hundreds of different youngsters of church adherents who’ve confronted abuse and neglect.

“If he hadn’t allegedly committed the crime, Mr. Yamagami would deserve much sympathy. There are many others who also suffer” due to their mother and father’ religion, stated Kimiaki Nishida, a Rissho University psychology professor and professional in cult research.

There even have been severe political implications for Japan’s governing social gathering, which has stored cozy ties with the church regardless of controversies and a string of authorized disputes.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s reputation has plunged for the reason that killing, and he has shuffled his Cabinet to purge members with ties to the spiritual group. On Thursday, the nationwide police company chief submitted his resignation to take accountability over Abe’s assassination.

Yamagami, who’s being detained for psychological analysis till late November, has beforehand expressed on social media a hatred for the Unification Church, which was based in South Korea in 1954 and has, for the reason that Nineteen Eighties, confronted accusations of devious recruitment practices and brainwashing of adherents into making large donations.

In a letter seen by The Associated Press and tweets believed to be his, Yamagami stated his household and life had been destroyed by the church due to his mom’s large donations. Police confirmed {that a} draft of Yamagami’s letter was present in a pc confiscated from his one-room house.

“After my mother joined the church (in the 1990s), my entire teenage years were gone, with some 100 million yen ($735,000) wasted,” he wrote within the typed letter, which he despatched to a blogger in western Japan the day earlier than he allegedly assassinated Abe throughout a marketing campaign speech on July 8 in Nara, western Japan. “It’s not an exaggeration to say my experience during that time has kept distorting my entire life.”

Yamagami was 4 when his father, an government of an organization based by the suspect’s grandfather, killed himself. After his mom joined the Unification Church, she started making huge donations that bankrupted the household and shattered Yamagami’s hope of going to varsity. His brother later dedicated suicide. After a three-year stint within the navy, Yamagami was most just lately a manufacturing unit employee.

Yamagami’s uncle, in media interviews, stated Yamagami’s mom donated 60 million yen ($440,000) inside months of becoming a member of the church. When her father died within the late Nineties, she bought firm property value 40 million yen ($293,000), bankrupting the household in 2002. The uncle stated he needed to cease giving cash for meals and faculty to the Yamagami youngsters as a result of the mom gave it to the church, not her youngsters.

When Yamagami tried to kill himself in 2005, his mom didn’t return from a visit to South Korea, the place the church was based, his uncle stated.

Yamagami’s mom reportedly advised prosecutors that she was sorry for troubling the church over her son’s alleged crime. His uncle stated she appeared devastated however remained a church follower. The authorities and the native bar affiliation refused to remark. Repeated makes an attempt to contact Yamagami, his mom, his uncle and their attorneys had been unsuccessful.


Beginning in October 2019, Yamagami, who’s broadly reported to have tweeted beneath the title “Silent Hill 333,” wrote concerning the church, his painful previous and political points.

In December 2019, he tweeted that his grandfather blamed Yamagami’s mom for the household’s troubles and even tried to kill her. “What’s most hopeless is that my grandfather was right. But I wanted to believe my mother.”

Part of the rationale Yamagami’s case has struck a chord is as a result of he’s a member of what the Japanese media have referred to as a “lost generation” that’s been caught with low-paying contract jobs. He graduated from highschool in 1999 throughout “the employment ice age” that adopted the implosion of the nation’s Nineteen Eighties bubble economic system.

Despite being the world’s third-largest economic system, Japan has confronted three many years of financial turmoil and social disparity, and plenty of of those that grew up in these years are single and are caught with unstable jobs and emotions of isolation and unease.

Some high-profile crimes in recent times, akin to mass killings in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district in 2008 and a deadly arson assault on Kyoto Animation in 2016, reportedly concerned “lost generation” attackers with troubled household and work histories.

Yamagami’s case additionally has make clear the kids of Unification Church adherents. Many are uncared for, consultants say, and there’s been little assist as a result of authorities and faculty officers have a tendency to withstand interference on spiritual freedom grounds.

“If our society had paid more attention to the problems over the past few decades, (Yamagami’s) attack could have been prevented,” stated Mafumi Usui, a Niigata Seiryo University social psychology professor and cult professional.

More than 55,000 individuals have joined a petition calling for authorized safety for “second generation” followers who say they had been pressured to hitch the church.

Abe, in a September 2021 video message, praised the church’s work for peace on the Korean Peninsula and its concentrate on household values. His video look presumably motivated Yamagami, stated Nishida, the psychology professor.

Yamagami reportedly advised police he had deliberate to kill the church founder’s spouse, Hak Ja Han Moon, who has led the church since Moon’s 2012 demise, however switched targets as a result of it was unlikely she’d go to Japan in the course of the pandemic.

“Though I feel bitter, Abe is not my true enemy. He is only one of the Unification Church’s most influential sympathizers,” Yamagami wrote in his letter. “I’ve already lost the mental space to think about political meanings or the consequences Abe’s death will bring.”

The case has drawn consideration to ties between the church, which got here to Japan in 1964, and the governing Liberal Democratic Party that has nearly uninterruptedly dominated post-World War II Japan.

A governing lawmaker, Shigeharu Aoyama, final month stated a celebration faction chief advised him how church votes might assist candidates that lack organizational backing.

Tomihiro Tanaka, head of the church’s Japan department, denied “political interference” with any explicit social gathering, however stated the church has developed nearer ties with governing social gathering lawmakers than with others due to their shared anti-communist stance.

Members of the National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, which for many years has supplied authorized help for individuals with monetary disputes with the church, say they’ve acquired 34,000 complaints involving misplaced cash exceeding a complete of 120 billion yen ($900 million).

Tanaka accused the attorneys and the media of “persecuting” church followers.

A former adherent in her 40s stated at a current information convention that she and two sisters had been pressured to hitch the church when she was in highschool after their mom turned a follower.

After two failed marriages organized by the church, she stated she awoke from “mind-control” and returned to Japan in 2013.

As a second-generation sufferer “who had my life destroyed by the church, I can understand (Yamagami’s) pain, though what he did was wrong,” she stated.

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