Japan ‘psychological examination’ of the suspect in the assassination of Mr. Abe

Tetsuya Yamagami, a suspect in the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Abe, will undergo a psychiatric evaluation until the end of the year to determine if Yamagami will be prosecuted.

A court in Nara Prefecture, western Japan, where the suspect lives and assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe, has accepted prosecutors’ request that Yamagami should undergo a psychiatric evaluation, Japanese media today citing investigative sources. The review runs until November 29.

Yamagami will be transferred to the hospital for evaluation. Prosecutors then use the results of the assessment to determine whether Yamagami is qualified to be prosecuted.

The Nara Prefectural Prosecutor has not yet commented on this information.

Suspect Tetsuya Yamagami is escorted to the Nara District Prosecutor's Office, July 10.  Photo: AFP.

Suspect Tetsuya Yamagami is escorted to the Nara District Prosecutor’s Office, July 10. Image: AFP.

Yamagami, 41, shot and assassinated Abe on July 8 while he was giving a speech in Nara ahead of upper house elections. Yamagami blended into the crowd listening to Mr. Abe’s speech and fired two shots from behind, about 5 meters from the podium. The homemade gun that Yamagami used was said to be able to fire 6 bullets at once.

Yamagami said he targeted the former prime minister because he thought he was related to a religious organization his mother joined and was bankrupted by them.

Police believe Yamagami had been planning to assassinate Mr. Abe for at least a year because he said he started making guns around spring 2021. A neighbor near the suspect’s home said he heard the sound. like the sound of a saw chiseling wood from Yamagami’s room at night.

Police determined that Yamagami did not have a stable job and was in debt for making guns. The suspect told police he feared he would die in July due to lack of money and wanted to make sure Mr Abe was assassinated before that happened.

Yamagami joined the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in 2002, when his mother went bankrupt, and attempted suicide in 2005 because he wanted his brother and sister to enjoy life insurance. When he attempted suicide, Yamagami told the JMSDF officer that he did it because “the Unification Church destroyed his life and family”.

The Unification Church confirmed Yamagami’s mother as a longtime member. This is a Christian group known for its mass weddings, its efforts to forge ties with conservative political parties around the world, and its controversial methods of making money. Yamagami’s uncle said the suspect’s mother had donated 100 million yen ($724,000) to the sect.

Huyen Le (Theo Reuters, Asahi)

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