Abe murder suspect says mother’s involvement in Unification Church destroyed his life

The claimed motive for the crime – poverty and neglect – has sparked a surprising amount of sympathy among Japanese for the alleged assassin.

The Diplomat -- Aug 27

The brazen assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo with a handmade gun shocked a nation unused to high-profile political violence.

But there has been another surprise in the weeks since the murder as details have emerged about an alleged assassin who was well-off until his mother’s huge donations to the controversial Unification Church left him poor, neglected, and filled with rage.

Some Japanese have expressed understanding, even sympathy, for the 41-year-old suspect, especially those of a similar age who may feel pangs of recognition linked to their own suffering during three decades of economic malaise and social turmoil.

There have been suggestions on social media that care packages should be sent to suspect Yamagami Tetsuya’s detention center to cheer him up. And more than 7,000 people have signed a petition requesting prosecutorial leniency for Yamagami, who told police that he killed Abe, one of Japan’s most powerful and divisive politicians, because of his ties to an unnamed religious group widely believed to be the Unification Church.

Experts say the case has also illuminated the plight of thousands of other children of church adherents who have faced abuse and neglect. ...continue reading