Japan: Abe murder suspect's psychiatric evaluation extended, reports say

Suspect Tetsuya Yamagami was apprehended at the scene when Shinzo Abe was shot dead in broad daylight in July

Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP


Published: Thu 17 Nov 2022, 2:04 PM

A psychiatric assessment of whether a man accused of killing former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is fit to stand trial has been extended to February, media reports said on Thursday.

Suspect Tetsuya Yamagami was apprehended at the scene when Abe was shot dead in broad daylight in July.

Prosecutors halted questioning of Yamagami weeks later in order to examine his mental state around the time of the incident.

The assessment had been due to wrap up in late November but will now continue until February 6, Jiji Press and other Japanese media outlets reported.

The prosecutors' office in Nara, where Abe was killed, did not respond immediately to an AFP request for comment.


A rare state funeral was held in September to honour Abe, Japan's longest-serving premier.

Yamagami reportedly targeted Abe in the belief that the former premier was linked to the Unification Church. He reportedly resented the church over large donations his mother made to it that left his family bankrupt.

Abe was not a member of the church but had addressed an affiliated group, as have other powerful speakers such as former US president Donald Trump.

Founded in Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, the church — whose members are sometimes referred to as "Moonies" — rose to global prominence in the 1970s and 80s.

Officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the church has denied wrongdoing and has also pledged to prevent "excessive" donations from members.

Outrage over politicians' links to the church has caused approval ratings for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's administration to plummet.

Kishida has ordered a government investigation that could see the Unification Church lose its tax-exempt status in Japan, although it could still continue to operate.

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