UPDATED 8:08 PM PT – Saturday, July 23, 2022
The assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is undergoing mental health evaluations as authorities try to find a motive to the killing. Abe, 67, was pronounced dead by doctors at the Nara Medical University Hospital at 5:03 p.m local time on Friday, just over five hours after being shot while delivering a campaign speech in front of a small crowd on a street.
The Nara District Court approved a psychiatric evaluation for Tetsuya Yamagami on Saturday to comprehend his mental state at the time of the murder. The results of the examination will determine Yamagami’s criminal responsibility. Yamagami has expressed animosity towards a religious group known as the Unification Church of which he believed the former prime minister to be a member of.
“I thought that former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi contributed to the expansion of the group and I thought about killing his grandson, former Prime Minister Abe,” Yamagami told investigators.
NHK and Kyodo News Agency have also reported that Yamagami said his mother was involved with the group. The suspect’s mother was a member of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, widely known as the Unification Church, said the church’s Japan office chairman Tomihiro Tanaka in a statement on Monday.
The suspect was never a member of the church, while his mother has been a member who attended church events about once a month, the statement said. Tanaka added that the organization will cooperate with investigators if asked to do so.
Abe is reportedly set to receive a state funeral on September 27.