Assassination of Shinzo Abe: a suspect charged with the murder of the former Japanese Prime Minister

Japanese prosecutors have formally charged the man suspected of assassinating former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder.

The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested shortly after allegedly shooting Abe with a homemade weapon as the former leader gave a campaign speech in July outside a train station in Nara, western Japan.

Yamagami underwent a nearly six-month mental evaluation, which ended on Tuesday. He was deemed fit to stand trial, according to prosecutors.

Yamagami was also charged with violating a gun control law, according to the Nara District Court.

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FILE - Tetsuya Yamagami, bottom, is being held near the site of the shootings in Nara prefecture, western Japan, July 8, 2022. Japanese prosecutors have formally charged the suspect in the murder of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese state television NHK reported Friday, January 13, 2023.

FILE – Tetsuya Yamagami, bottom, is being held near the site of the shootings in Nara prefecture, western Japan, July 8, 2022. Japanese prosecutors have formally charged the suspect in the murder of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese state television NHK reported Friday, January 13, 2023.
(Katsuhiko Hirano/The Yomiuri Shbun via AP, file)

Police said Yamagami told them he killed Abe, one of Japan’s most influential and controversial politicians, because of Abe’s apparent ties to a religious group he hated.

In his statements and in social media posts attributed to him, Yamagami said he developed a grudge because his mother made massive donations to the Unification Church that bankrupted his family. and ruined his life.

A lawyer for Yamagami told The Associated Press that it will likely be several months before his trial begins due to the complexity of the case.

Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspected assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, walks into a police station in Nara, western Japan, January 10, 2023.

Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspected assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, walks into a police station in Nara, western Japan, January 10, 2023.
(Kyodo News via AP)

Police are also reportedly considering adding several allegations, including the production of weapons, violation of the Explosives Control Act and damage to buildings.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister's official residence on August 28, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a press conference at the Prime Minister’s official residence on August 28, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.
(Franck Robichon – Pool/Getty Images)

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

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

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A policeman arrests a man, suspected of shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Nara, western Japan, July 8, 2022.

A policeman arrests a man, suspected of shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Nara, western Japan, July 8, 2022.
(The Asahi Shimbun/via REUTERS)

Abe’s assassination sent shockwaves across Japan and the world. The dramatic shooting was caught on camera.

Abe was shot about two minutes and 20 seconds into his speech, according to Japanese news outlet NHK.

Video captured before the shooting allegedly shows Yamagami scanning his surroundings while standing near a pathway behind Abe.

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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, falls to the ground in Nara, western Japan, Friday, July 8, 2022.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, falls to the ground in Nara, western Japan, Friday, July 8, 2022.
(Katsuhiko Hirano/The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP)

He then pulls something out of a bag he was carrying and slowly walks towards Abe, walking several meters away from him, before raising the gun and opening fire, the station added.

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Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He served from 2006 to 2007 and again in 2012 until he resigned in 2020 after his chronic ulcerative colitis resurfaced, calling his decision at the time “heartbreaking”.

In this still from video, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, shortly before he was shot dead on Friday, July 8, 2022.

In this still from video, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, shortly before he was shot dead on Friday, July 8, 2022.
(Kyodo News via AP)

During his tenure, he focused on the economy, rebuilding the Japanese military, and playing a bigger role in international affairs.

The Associated Press, Fox News’ Brie Stimson and Greg Norman contributed to this report.

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