By Kiyoshi Takenaka, Ju-min Park and Tim Kelly

TOKYO (Reuters) -A police investigation into the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe prompted the pinnacle of the nation's department the Unification Church to verify on Monday that the mom of the suspect within the killing is a member.

Tetsuya Yamagami, an unemployed 41-year-old, has been recognized by police because the suspect who approached Abe and opened hearth throughout a marketing campaign speech on Friday.

Yamagami believed Abe had promoted a spiritual group to which his mom made a "large donation", Kyodo information company has mentioned, citing investigative sources.

The suspect advised police his mom subsequently went bankrupt, the Yomiuri newspaper and different media have reported.

Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japanese department of Household Federation for World Peace and Unification, often called the Unification Church, confirmed to reporters in Tokyo that the suspect's mom was a church member. He declined to touch upon her donations.

Neither Abe nor the suspected killer have been members, Tanaka mentioned. Nor was Abe an adviser to the church, he mentioned.

The Unification Church was based in South Korea in 1954 by Solar Myung Moon, a self-declared messiah and strident anti-communist.

It has gained world media consideration for its mass weddings the place it marries hundreds of {couples} at a time.

The church's associates embrace each day newspapers in South Korea, Japan and america. Moon ran a enterprise empire and based the conservative Washington Instances newspaper.

Reuters was not capable of contact Yamagami's mom and couldn't decide whether or not she belonged to every other spiritual organisations.

Abe, who held conservative views, appeared at an occasion hosted by an organisation affiliated with the church final September and delivered a speech praising the affiliate's work in the direction of peace on the Korean peninsula, in keeping with the church's web site.

Critics have for years mentioned the church is a cult and questioned what they are saying are murky funds. The church rejects such views and says it's a reputable spiritual motion.

Police have confirmed that the suspect mentioned he held a grudge in opposition to a particular organisation, however they haven't named it.


Reuters visited the house of Yamagami's mom in Nara on Monday. The white home is tucked away on the finish of a quiet cul de sac in a well-to-do neighbourhood one cease on the practice from the place Abe was gunned down. She didn't look like at house. Two uniformed policemen sat outdoors in an unmarked automobile.

A subsequent door neighbour, a lady who solely gave her surname Ishii, mentioned she didn't know the household and had solely ever greeted the mom.

"I do not see her round a lot, I say hi there, however that's all," she mentioned, including that the mom appeared to stay a quiet life.

One other neighbour, an 87-year-old lady who solely gave her surname Tanida, mentioned the mom had lived alone for a very long time.

Yamagami's mom first joined the church round 1998 however stopped attendance between 2009 and 2017, Tanaka mentioned. About two to a few years in the past she re-established communication with church members and within the final half yr or so has been attending church occasions about as soon as a month, he mentioned.

Tanaka mentioned the church discovered of the mom's monetary difficulties solely after speaking to these near her. He mentioned he didn't know what brought on these difficulties.

Nara police on Monday mentioned they discovered obvious bullet holes at a facility run by the church, and that the suspect advised them he had fired follow rounds on the facility the day earlier than he shot Abe.


Tanaka mentioned Abe had despatched messages to occasions held by church associates and expressed help for its world peace motion.

Moon, who spoke fluent Japanese, launched an anti-communist group in Japan within the late 1960s, the Worldwide Federation for Victory Over Communism, and constructed relations with Japanese politicians, in keeping with the church's publications.

Nobusuke Kishi, Abe's maternal grandfather and a former prime minister, was an honorary government chair at a bunch banquet hosted by Moon, the Worldwide Federation for Victory Over Communism mentioned on its web site.

Moon died in 2012. The church has about 600,000 members in Japan, out of 10 million globally, a spokesperson for the church mentioned.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Ju-min Park in Seoul and Tim Kelly in Nara; Extra reporting by Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo and Satoshi Sugiyama in Nara; Modifying by David Dolan, Kenneth Maxwell and Angus MacSwan)

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