By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press
TOKYO — The alleged assassin of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be detained until late November for mental evaluation so prosecutors can determine whether to formally press charges and send him to trial for murder, officials said Monday.
The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, was arrested immediately after he allegedly shot Abe from behind when the former leader was making a campaign speech outside a busy train station in western Japan on July 8.
The Nara District Court said it had granted permission for district prosecutors to detain the suspect for psychiatric examination until Nov. 29, when they must decide whether to file formal charges. His current detention was to expire later this month.
Yamagami, 41, has told police that he killed Abe because of his links to a religious group that he hated. His reported statements and other evidence suggest he was distressed because his mother’s massive donations to the Unification Church had bankrupted the family.
Abe’s assassination has shed a light on his and his party’s decades-long questionable links to the conservative church.
Members of the country’s main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan met on Monday and confirmed plans to pursue an investigation into how the church influenced the governing Liberal Democratic Party’s objections to a legal change to allow same-sex marriages or for married couples to keep separate surnames.
The party also said it will investigate if the new government’s unit for children, to be launched next spring, added “families” as part of its agency name because of the church’s pressure.
The church was founded in Seoul in 1954, a year after the end of the Korean War, by the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed messiah whose teachings are backed by new interpretations of the Bible and conservative, family-oriented value systems and strong anti-communism.
Abe, in his video message to the church’s affiliate, the Universal Peace Foundation, in September, 2021, praised the group’s work toward peace on the Korean Peninsula and its focus on family values.
The ties between the church and Japan’s governing party go back to Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who served as prime minister and shared worries with Washington over the spread of communism in Japan in the 1960s.