Japan mourns Shinzo Abe after former prime minister’s assassination
An investigation has begun into the motives of the shooter and the security measures that were in place for Abe, who was attacked while defending another member of the center-right Liberal Democratic Party in Nara, near Osaka. The suspect, a 41-year-old unemployed man from Nara named Tetsuya Yamagami, told investigators he believed Abe was connected to a group he hated, police said.
The campaign for Japan’s upper house resumed on Saturday, with candidates and surrogates – including incumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – returning to the track ahead of Sunday’s election. Abe’s ruling LDP, which has dominated Japanese politics since its founding in 1955, is expected to be victorious. If the LDP maintains or expands its control over the upper house, it would pave the way for Kishida, elected in October, to adopt some of its most ambitious policy proposals.
Shinzo Abe, longtime Japanese leader, killed at 67
Akie Abe, the wife of the slain chief, returned to Tokyo from Nara on Saturday morning, and Abe’s body was brought back in a hearse. No details have been released on funeral arrangements. Security around his home in Tokyo had tightened overnight, with more police on site.
Little is known about the shooter and his motives. Yamagami was a member of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years in his early twenties. Police found several homemade weapons at his home on Friday.
Yamagami was arrested at the scene and admitted shooting Abe with a homemade weapon, officials said. He told investigators his mother went bankrupt after spending her money supporting a religious group, according to Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun, citing law enforcement sources. Yamagami said he found out about Abe’s visit online and traveled to the site by subway on Friday, Mainichi reported.
Police declined to identify the group, citing the ongoing investigation.
Japan’s National Police Agency has launched an investigation into the security protocols that were in place for Abe, one of the country’s most recognizable political figures.
Abe was guarded by a team from the Nara Police Department and officers from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, according to Japanese news outlet Jiji Press. Nara police said Friday night that they rushed to set up security because they had only been informed of Abe’s presence the day before the event.
Kishida spoke on the phone with President Biden on Saturday morning. After the shooting, Biden went to the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Washington and signed the condolence book.
“On behalf of the Biden family and all of America, we express our sincere sympathy to the Abe family and the people of Japan,” Biden wrote. “It’s not just a loss to his wife and family – and the Japanese people, but a loss to the world. A man of peace and judgment – he will be missed.
What are the Japanese gun laws? Abe’s murder shocks a nation where shootings are rare.
Abe, 67, remained a power broker in his party even after leaving office. He was an imposing figure at home and abroad, coming from a prominent political family. He served a brief first term as prime minister in 2006, making him the youngest to serve as prime minister of post-war Japan.
He died of blood loss on Friday less than five hours after being shot in the neck and chest. The killer fired twice and the second caused both wounds, police said, raising questions about the type of weapon and ammunition the shooter used.
The shooting reverberated throughout the country, which has a low crime rate and some of the most restrictive gun laws in the world. Guns are rare, as are fatal shootings, of which there was exactly one in 2021.
Eight of Japan’s 10 shootings last year were yakuza-related, according to the National Police Agency, resulting in one death and four injuries.