(MENAFN) Shinzo Abe was not his assassin's first choice. According to investigators, Tetsuya Yamagami, the 41-year-old who fatally shot Japan's longest-serving prime minister on July 8, planned to assassinate the leader of the Unification Church, a South Korean religious cult that the 41-year-old blames for his family's financial downfall. However, the COVID-19 epidemic hampered progress.
Hak Ja Han Moon, who has led the church since its founder, her husband Sun Myung Moon, died in 2012, had ceased visiting Japan due to pandemic-related border restrictions.
Yamagami claimed in a message to a blogger the day before shooting Abe with a homemade gun that killing Hak Ja Han Moon was "impossible." And, while Abe was "not my initial opponent," the 67-year-old lawmaker was "one of the Unification Church's most important sympathizers," he said. "I can no longer afford to consider the political ramifications and repercussions of Abe's death," he continued.
The heinous murder in Nara, when Abe was making a campaign address, stunned Japan, a country where political violence and gun crimes are very unusual. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida promptly proclaimed that a state burial would be performed for Abe, while his governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won a landslide win in an upper house election held just days after the killing.
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