Suspect ‘carried a grudge’ against Shinzo Abe over his mother’s bankruptcy

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Nara, July 9

The man who killed Shinzo Abe believed the former Japanese leader was linked to a religious group he blamed for his mother’s financial ruin and spent months planning the attack with a homemade weapon, police told local media on Saturday.

Tetsuya Yamagami, an unemployed 41-year-old, was identified as the suspect after Japan’s longest-serving prime minister was shot in the back.

The suspect was seen pulling out onto the road behind Abe, who was standing on a platform at an intersection, before firing two shots from a 16-inch-long gun wrapped in black tape. He was approached by police at the scene.

Yamagami was a loner who didn’t respond when spoken to, neighbors said. He believed Abe had promoted a religious group that his mother bankrupted by donating, the Kyodo news agency said, citing investigative sources.

“My mother got involved with a religious group and upset me,” Kyodo and other national media quoted him as telling police. However, the Nara police refused to comment on the matter. The media has not named the religious group he was allegedly upset with.

Yamagami assembled the weapon from parts bought online, spent months planning the attack and even attending other Abe campaign events, including one a day earlier some 200 kilometers away, media said.

He had considered a bomb attack before opting for a weapon, according to NHK, a public broadcaster.

The suspect told police that he made guns by wrapping steel tubes with tape, some of them even with five or six tubes, from the parts he bought online, NHK said.

Police found bullet holes in a billboard attached to a campaign van near the scene of the shooting and believe they were from Yamagami’s gun.

A Japanese Navy spokesman said a person named Tetsuya Yamagami served in the Maritime Self-Defense Force from 2002 to 2005.

He refused to confirm if the person was the alleged killer. “Yamagami joined a training unit at Sasebo, a major naval base in the southwest, and was assigned to a destroyer artillery platoon,” he said. “During his service, the members of the Self-Defense Forces train with live ammunition once a year. They also do weapons maintenance,” an officer said. — Reuters

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