Tetsuya Yamagami, an unemployed 41-year-old, was identified by police as the suspect who approached Abe and opened fire during a campaign speech on Friday, an attack that was captured on video and shocked a nation where gun violence is rare.
Yamagami believed Abe had promoted a religious group to which his mother made a “huge donation”, Kyodo news agency has said, citing investigative sources. Yamagami told police his mother went bankrupt from the donation, the Yomiuri newspaper and other media have reported.
Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japan branch of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, known as the Unification Church, told reporters at a briefing in Tokyo that Yamagami’s mother was a member of the church.
Tanaka declined to comment on her donations, citing the ongoing police investigation.
Reuters could not determine whether the mother belonged to any other religious organisations.
Police have confirmed that Yamagami held a grudge against a specific organisation, but have not named it.
Neither Abe nor the man arrested for his shooting were members of the church, Tanaka said. Abe was also not an adviser to the church, Tanaka said, adding the church would cooperate with police on the investigation if asked to do so.