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Special Edition: All about the assassination of Shinzo Abe

The role of the Japanese prime minister

The Prime Minister of Japan is the head of government and, as head of the Cabinet, therefore holds executive power within the Japanese Government. He also represents the Japanese state on the international stage.

If we were to compare with France, he does indeed have the role of president of the republic but is only called prime minister because Japan has an emperor - who therefore does not really have any power.

The 64th and current Prime Minister has been Fumio Kishida since October 4, 2021.


A popular former prime minister

Abe Shinzo (安倍晋三), was a Japanese politician who served as Prime Minister of Japan and Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. He holds the record for longevity for a Japanese prime minister, with 9 years on the clock. He left his post due to medical concerns in September 2020. Since then, he has remained in Japanese politics in a minor role, serving as a campaign supporter for his party.


July 8, 2022, Yamato-Saidaiji Station, Nara

While giving a speech in support of LDP party member Kei Satō, the assassin approached Abe from behind, homemade firearm in hand, and fired two shots. The first missed and prompted Abe to turn around, at which point a second was fired, fatally striking Abe in the neck and chest area.

Abe was rushed to hospital showing no vital signs. Despite transfusions, the blood loss was too great and attempts at resuscitation failed. He was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m. JST, aged 67.


Tetsuya Yamagami: crazy?

Moment of uncertainty for several days in the Japanese media: we don't understand why anyone would have the idea of killing Abe. His uncle ended up telling us their story.

When he was about 4 years old, Yamagami's father committed suicide and Yamagami's brother, who was a year older, was blinded in his right eye due to childhood cancer. Their distressed mother turned to religion and a cult: “The Unification Church.”

In all, she gave the organization a total of 100 million yen (more than 700,000 euros), part coming from life insurance payments after the death of Yamagami's father and the other from the sale of assets real estate. Because of all these donations, the family eventually went bankrupt, to the point where the children were begging other family members to help them because they had nothing to eat.

Yamagami got into one of the top high schools in Nara Prefecture, but gave up on going to college due to lack of money. He joined the MSDF (Maritime Army) the year his mother went bankrupt, and in January 2005 he attempted suicide at age 24. He had confided to those around him that he wanted to sacrifice himself so that life insurance could save his brother and sister, mired in poverty.

So what does this have to do with Abe? Well, the latter was somehow supporting the religious group by appearing at their events, even though he wasn't officially a member. This was enough for Yamagami, who wanted to use the assassination to expose the cult's actions.


The Unification Church

The church was founded in Seoul in 1954, a year after the end of the Korean War, by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the self-proclaimed messiah who preached new interpretations of the Bible and conservative, religion-oriented value systems. family.

The church is known in the media for mass weddings where it matched couples, often from different countries, in large open venues such as stadiums and gymnasiums. The group is said to have millions of members worldwide, including hundreds of thousands in Japan.

In Japan, the group faced prosecution for selling "spiritual merchandise" that allegedly lured members into buying expensive art and jewelry or selling their real estate to raise donations for the church .

The church has developed relationships with conservative world leaders, including U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and most recently Donald Trump. It is therefore easy to understand that it can still exist despite the accusations.

In Japan, the best-known political connection was with Abe's grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who was also prime minister and is believed to have helped the sect establish itself in Japan.

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