Shinzo Abe assassination suspect’s mother is a member of the ‘Moonies’, church confirms
A 41-year-old man was arrested Friday after Abe was fatally shot during a campaign speech in Nara, western Japan. Abe, injured in the neck and chest, died in hospital a few hours later.
Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japanese branch of the Unification Church, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, confirmed at a press conference on Monday that the mother of the suspect was a follower, Reuters reported.
Tanaka did not name her, but said she joined the church in 1998, Reuters reported. He said she stopped attending events between 2009 and 2017, but reconnected with church members two years ago and has been attending church events regularly ever since. according to the report.
The Unification Church is a religious movement founded in 1954 by the South Korean Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Followers of the group are often referred to as “Moonies”.
Police have previously said the shooting suspect told them he had a grudge against an unnamed religious organization and originally wanted to kill its leader, but decided to kill Abe instead.
The suspect told police his mother went bankrupt after donating to the Anonymous religious group more than 20 years ago, Reuters reported, citing Japanese media. He also blamed Abe for promoting the group, the newspaper said.
Tanaka declined to comment on the mother’s donations, citing an ongoing police investigation, but said neither Abe nor the suspect were members of the church, Reuters reported.
“As an organization, Family Federation emphasizes the value of the family in building a peaceful society. We condemn this act of violence. Guns have no place in our religious beliefs or practices,” the church said in a statement Monday.
He also invited senior Conservative politicians, including former President Donald Trump, to speak at its events. Last year, Abe delivered a speech at an event hosted by an organization affiliated with the Unification Church.
Abe’s assassination shocked Japan, which has one of the biggest lowest gun crime rates due to its strict gun control laws.