Unification Church May Be Source of Suspect's Grudge

Mother of man held in Abe's killing is a member
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 11, 2022 5:35 PM CDT
Unification Church May Be Source of Suspect's Grudge
A mourner offers flowers and prayers for former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Zojoji temple prior to the wake Monday in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

The Unification Church confirmed Monday that the mother of the man accused of killing Shinzo Abe is a member, raising the possibility that it's the organization against which the suspect held a grudge. Japanese police have said the suspect told them he was motivated by a grudge against a group, the Guardian reports, but they have not publicly identified it. Tetsuya Yamagami said his mother made a large donation to the church more than 20 years ago that wrecked the family financially, investigators have reported.

Unification officials held a press conference Monday in which they said the suspect's mother joined the church in 1998, then was uninvolved for a long period before returning this year. They said there's no record of her son ever belonging to the church, per the New York Times. The church is known for trying to form ties with conservative parties; former President Donald Trump is among the politicians who have addressed members.

Abe sent a congratulations video to the church last year, but officials said he has no direct ties to the organization. In the video, Abe praised the group for its "emphasis on family values." News reports in Japan said the suspect believed the former prime minister had promoted the Unification Church, per NBC News. The Rev. Sun Myung Moon founded the church in South Korea in 1954. (Read more Shinzo Abe stories.)

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