Abe Shinzo’s assassin achieved his political goals

The film “Revolution+1” opens with grainy footage of the actual killing of Japan’s former prime minister, Shinzo Abe, as Tetsuya Yamagami approaches wielding a homemade gun, portraying the sympathetic protagonist Kawakami, whose biography bears a striking resemblance to the actual killer Abe. The film proceeds to portray Yamagami’s father’s suicide, committed under the spell of the cultlike Church of Unification, and his mother’s falling into the cult as well.

The film “Revolution+1” recently screened in Yokohama, and a female viewer mused that it is unfortunate that people resort to murder. The protagonist, known as Yamagami Girls or Resshi Yamagami, is seen as a dark hero and a crusader for the underclass in Japan’s imagination. He is currently being held in prison, where he reportedly receives gifts from fans who admire him. The film shows the extent of his connections to the church, where his mother was ensnared, and the murders he committed, including the one he confessed to, where he said he killed Abe.

Japanese media has been following stories about the ongoing ties between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) members and a group called the “Church?” On talk shows, which allegedly manipulated large donations. The “Church?” Is often referred to as the “Moonies,” a Korean outfit known for its controversial practices. Until last summer in Japan, not many thought much about UC, but a Google search for “2022 in Japan” revealed its significance. Yamagami’s effective and shocking political violence illustrates a grim truth.

Three ministers were forced to resign due to such connections. The LDP conducted an internal investigation to uncover relationships between its lawmakers and UC members. It also grants dissenting members the right to reclaim their contributions. A recent law was enacted last week with the purpose of weakening it and similar organizations: it prohibits them from seeking donations through intimidation. The ministry of education initiated an inquiry into it, marking the first investigation of a religious group, which sets the stage for the removal of the UC’s tax-exempt status as a religious corporation. In September, an inter-agency consultation center for victims of the church was established. A government official informed Banyan in late 2020 that they were dedicating half of their time to resolving this issue. The government has been urgently working to address the situation.

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The capital punishment is seldom imposed in cases with one victim, although Japan has it. Mr. Yamagami is facing charges that could result in him being imprisoned for many years. Prosecutors are scheduled to file an indictment by January 13th, and on January 10th, court psychiatrists declared the murderer mentally capable of standing trial. The ongoing prominence of Mr. Yamagami’s case will only make it more challenging. His leadership has been significantly weakened, to the point where political insiders suggest that he may struggle to survive the year, partly due to his handling of the matter. Kishida Fumio, the prime minister of Japan, witnessed a decline in his approval ratings from above 50% to the low to mid 30s. The political consequences may not be fully resolved.

The political violence in Japan is rarely fulfilled by many perpetrators. The shooting of Nagasaki’s mayor, which led to a crackdown on the Yakuza gang, was carried out by a local gangster. This incident was not the first killing of an elected leader in Japan. Amidst the fractious debates over the security treaty with America, Kishi Nobusuke, the grandfather of Abe, was neither halted nor killed by the attacker who stabbed him. The director of “Revolution+1,” Adachi Masao, was involved in these debates. He was a member of the Red Army Japanese militant group and was once responsible for a massacre at the Lod airport in Tel Aviv in 1972, where two attackers killed and a third wounded in an attack that the group, which did not support the Palestinian cause, claimed responsibility for.

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In order to understand the significance of political violence, one must examine the series of assassinations carried out by far-right groups within the armed forces that helped Japan descend into fascism during the 1930s. It appears that Yamagami acted alone, without any ideological allies, drawing inspiration from the effective yet disturbing crimes committed by other individuals. It is all too easy to imagine how one malign individual can take inspiration from the twisted actions of another.

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