Mother Of Abe Killing Suspect Is Unification Church Member, Church Says

The mother of the man arrested for the killing of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe is a member of the Unification Church, the head of its Japanese arm said on Monday.

Tetsuya Yamagami, an unemployed 41-year-old, has been identified by police as the suspect who approached Abe and opened fire during a campaign speech on Friday.

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 Japanese branch of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, known as the Unification Church, told reporters in Tokyo that Yamagami's mother was a church member.

Tanaka declined to comment on her donations, citing the ongoing police investigation.

Neither Abe nor the man arrested for his shooting were members of the church, Tanaka said. Nor was Abe an adviser to the church, Tanaka said, adding that it would cooperate with police on the investigation if asked to do so.

Reuters was not able to contact Yamagami's mother and could not determine whether she belonged to any other religious organisations.

The Unification Church was founded in South Korea in 1954 by Sun Myung Moon, a self-declared messiah and strident anti-communist. It has gained global media attention for its mass weddings where it marries thousands of couples at a time.