Shinzo Abe assassination: Suspect charged with murder in fatal shooting of former Japanese PM

Prosecutors in Japan have formally charged the man suspected of murdering former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder.

The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested after he allegedly shot Abe with a homemade gun when the former leader was delivering a campaign speech outside a train station in Nara, western Japan, in July.

Yamagami underwent a nearly six-month mental examination that ended on Tuesday. According to prosecutors, he was found fit to stand trial.

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

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FILE - Tetsuya Yamagami, below, is arrested near the shooting location in western Japan's Nara Prefecture on July 8, 2022.  Japanese prosecutors have formally charged the suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder, Japan's public television NHK reported Friday, December 1, 2023.

FILE – Tetsuya Yamagami, below, is arrested near the shooting location in western Japan’s Nara Prefecture on July 8, 2022. Japanese prosecutors have formally charged the suspect in the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with murder, Japan’s public television NHK reported Friday, December 1, 2023.
(Katsuhiko Hirano/The Yomiuri Shbun via AP, file)

Police said Yamagami told them he killed Abe, one of Japan’s most influential and divisive 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 take several months for his trial to begin due to the complexity of the case.

Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspected assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, enters a police station in Nara, western Japan, January 14.  10th, 2023.

Tetsuya Yamagami, the suspected assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, enters a police station in Nara, western Japan, January 14. 10th, 2023.
(Kyodo News via AP)

Police are also reportedly considering adding several charges, including weapons production, violating the Explosives Control Act and causing damage to buildings.

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister's Office August 28, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

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

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

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

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A police officer detains a man believed to have shot and killed former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nara, western Japan, July 8, 2022.

A police officer detains a man believed to have shot and killed former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Nara, western Japan, July 8, 2022.
(The Asahi Shimbun/via REUTERS)

Abe’s assassination shocked Japan and the world. The dramatic shooting was caught on video.

According to the Japanese news agency NHK, Abe was shot dead about two minutes and 20 seconds after his speech.

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

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Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, falls to the ground in Nara, western Japan, Friday July 8, 2022.

Japan’s former 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 takes something from a bag he was carrying and slowly approaches Abe, moving several feet 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 resigning in 2020 after his chronic ulcerative colitis resurfaced, calling his decision at the time “rending at it.”

In this video footage, Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, shortly before his shooting death on Friday, July 8, 2022.

In this video footage, Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a campaign speech in Nara, western Japan, shortly before his shooting death on Friday, July 8, 2022.
(Kyodo News via AP)

During his tenure, he focused on the economy, rebuilding the Japanese military and its role as a major player in international affairs.

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

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