Suspect in Abe’s murder deemed fit to stand trial

“It’s an extremely serious case, but someone has to defend it,” Furukawa said. “Clearly he will have to accept criminal responsibility for the serious consequences he caused by allegedly firing his gun to take the life of a politician and it is our duty to do our best to see his sentence completed to decrease.”

Shinzo Abe after his appointment as Prime Minister of Japan in 2012.

Shinzo Abe after his appointment as Prime Minister of Japan in 2012.Credit:AP

Yamagami’s father, an executive at a company founded by the suspect’s grandfather, killed himself when Yamagami was four years old. After his mother joined the church, she began making large donations that ruined the family and ended Yamagami’s hopes of going to college. His brother later committed suicide. After three years of service in the Navy, Yamagami was most recently a factory worker.

Some Japanese have expressed sympathy for Yamagami, particularly those who also suffered as children of followers of the South Korea-based Unification Church, known for urging adherents to make large donations and considered a cult in Japan.

Thousands of people have signed a petition asking for leniency for Yamagami, and others have sent aid packages to his relatives or the detention center.

The investigation into the case has led to revelations about years of close ties between Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the church, since Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, helped the church gain a foothold in Japan in the 1960s over shared interests in conservatives and anti-communist causes.


Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s popularity has plummeted over his handling of the church controversy and his insistence on holding a rare, controversial state funeral for Abe.

In a September 2021 video message, Abe praised the work of the Unification Church for Peace in the Korean Peninsula and its focus on traditional family values.

AP Suspect in Abe’s murder deemed fit to stand trial

Callan Tansill

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