A man was indicted on charges of murder and violating the firearms control law for fatally shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during an election campaign speech in July, prosecutors said Friday after months of a psychiatric evaluation.

The prosecutors concluded that Tetsuya Yamagami, 42, is competent to stand trial following mental examinations undertaken since late July. His detention period for the examination expired on Tuesday.

Yamagami has told investigators that he held a grudge against the Unification Church and targeted Abe because he was a grandson of former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, who helped the controversial religious group set up a Japanese chapter, investigative sources said.

File photo taken in Nara on July 8, 2022, shows former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe fallen on the ground on the side of a road after being shot from behind when he was giving a stump speech for the July 10 House of Councillors election. (Kyodo)  

He has said his mother's large donations to the organization, established in South Korea by a staunch anti-communist in 1954, left his family in financial ruin, according to the investigative sources.

Yamagami's mother became a believer of the group, known for its mass weddings and aggressive donation solicitations, in the early 1990s and provided donations totaling roughly 100 million yen ($765,000), sources close to him have said.

Abe, Japan's longest-serving leader, died on July 8 after being shot at close range while giving a campaign speech in the western Japan city of Nara two days ahead of the House of Councillors election. Yamagami was arrested on the spot.

Homemade guns were confiscated from the shooting site and Yamagami's residence, the investigative sources said earlier.

Abe was prime minister from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020 before stepping down due to health problems. He remained one of the most influential figures in Japanese politics as the leader of the largest intraparty group within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

In a regular news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno on Friday said Yamagami's "violent act" during an election campaign represents a challenge to the "foundation of democracy."

"We have to take it seriously that Mr. Abe was killed," the top government spokesman said.

Since the incident, the religious group, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, has come under renewed scrutiny.

Links between many LDP lawmakers and the church have been exposed, forcing a minister to step down and dragging down support ratings for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who heads the ruling party.

Amid criticism over the fundraising practices of the group, Japan's parliament enacted a law to ban organizations from maliciously soliciting donations in December.

The government is also investigating the group's activities to assess whether it has systematically solicited massive, financially ruinous donations from its members and their families, with an eye on a court order to remove its status as a religious corporation with tax benefits.

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