TOKYO — When Tetsuya Yamagami was arrested after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, he advised the police he had “a grudge” in opposition to a “certain group.” But the authorities haven’t recognized the group or defined its connection to Mr. Abe.
Scrutiny, amid a swirl of Japanese media hypothesis, is now targeted on the Unification Church, the Christian group identified for its mass weddings and efforts to domesticate relationships with conservative political events worldwide.
At a information convention on Monday, church officers detailed the group’s ties to Mr. Yamagami’s mom, describing her as a longtime member. She had joined the church in 1998 however misplaced contact with the group for a lengthy interval earlier than returning earlier this 12 months, Tomihiro Tanaka, the top of the church’s Japan department, stated.
The church, which didn’t particularly determine itself because the group cited by the police, stated it had no data indicating that Mr. Yamagami had ever been a member and was not conscious of any threats directed by him at its members. The church additionally stated it had had no direct relationship with Mr. Abe, though it had interacted with different lawmakers by an affiliated group.
The police have revealed few particulars about Mr. Yamagami, 41, who has been charged with homicide. Mr. Abe was shot from behind with a do-it-yourself gun in Nara on Friday whereas delivering a speech for a candidate two days earlier than a parliamentary election.
After his arrest, Mr. Yamagami advised police that he had served in Japan’s army. An individual with his same name and date of birth served three years in the nation’s Navy.
During a information briefing on Monday, the police stated that Mr. Yamagami had confessed to testing an improvised weapon the day earlier than the taking pictures of Mr. Abe. The police stated Friday that a number of improvised weapons had been seized from Mr. Yamagami’s condominium.
The taking pictures shook a nation the place gun violence is uncommon, however throughout a wake for Mr. Abe on Monday evening at one in all Tokyo’s largest Buddhist temples, there have been few indicators of elevated safety. Mourners coming in off the road deposited flowers in entrance of a photograph of Mr. Abe. Nearby, a stream of dignitaries in black fits and attire walked in from close by prepare stations or arrived by automotive at a guarded gate, although nobody appeared to be imposing strict safety checks.
Mourners gathered someday after Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party swept to victory in elections for the Upper House of Parliament. On Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida praised Mr. Abe’s management and pledged that the newly empowered L.D.P. would work to appreciate his long-held targets, together with revising the nation’s pacifist Constitution.
The Japanese folks had issued a “rousing call,” for the social gathering to make sure Mr. Abe’s legacy, he stated. “It’s unbearable that a great leader beloved by all the world had his life suddenly robbed by violence.”
The Unification Church was based in South Korea in 1954 by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. It later expanded abroad, constructing a community of newspapers and civic organizations that it used to develop ties with conservative political events world wide. It additionally generated questions on its recruiting and enterprise practices. In the Nineteen Seventies and Nineteen Eighties, the group faced lawsuits over soliciting funds and fees of “brainwashing” by dad and mom who stated their youngsters had been pressured to affix.
The church established its department in Japan in the late Fifties, and it quickly discovered common cause with right-wing Japanese politicians, together with Mr. Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi, over their shared animosity for Communism.
Ties between church-affiliated organizations and members of the ruling L.D.P. developed in the next many years because the church grew in dimension and Japanese followers generated billions of dollars in income for the group.
But the Unification Church’s affect in Japan has dwindled in latest many years, and it has had issue recruiting new members since a schism following Mr. Moon’s death in 2012, stated Yoshihide Sakurai, a professor of sociology and faith at Hokkaido University who has studied the Unification Church in Japan.
Groups associated to the church have continued to draw some top Japanese lawmakers to their occasions.
In 2021, Mr. Abe and other politicians from several countries, together with the United States, addressed a gathering in South Korea run by a Unification Church-affiliated group. Speaking by video feed, Mr. Abe praised the group for its “focus and emphasis on family values.”
And in 2022, throughout a conference in Seoul selling peace on the Korean Peninsula, a speaker delivered temporary written remarks on Mr. Abe’s behalf. They expressed hope the assembly would “open up new paths for peaceful reconciliation.”
News stories of Mr. Abe’s connection to the 2021 occasion drew criticism in Japan from the nation’s Communist Party and different teams, together with a lawyer’s association that has mounted a decades-long marketing campaign in opposition to the Unification Church’s actions in Japan.
In an open letter to Mr. Abe, the affiliation, The National Network of Lawyers Against Spiritual Sales, requested the previous prime minister to sever his affiliation with the church and its affiliated organizations, writing that “cooperating with and supporting these events is absolutely not a good idea.”
His connections to the Unification Church had been most likely “very weak,” Mr. Sakurai stated, describing Mr. Abe’s remarks to the group as “ordinary work for politicians who wanted to collect votes.”
The church was simply one in all many spiritual organizations with right-wing political opinions that Mr. Abe and his fellow conservatives in the L.D.P. have counted on for political help, stated Levi McLaughlin, an affiliate professor at North Carolina State University who research the connection between politics and faith in Japan.
“None of this is unusual, and it’s certainly not exclusive,” he stated, including that it simply “happens that the church shares a lot of the policy platforms of the L.D.P. and specifically of Abe.”
Motoko Rich and Hikari Hida contributed reporting.