Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated on Friday, stunning Japan and the world.
The 67-year-old leader, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, remained an influential figure in the country’s politics after leaving office in 2020. He was shot in the back while delivering a speech at the outside and was quickly airlifted to a hospital, but was pronounced dead hours later.
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested for the assassination shortly after Abe was shot. He admitted to killing the former chief.
Here are five things to know about the assassination:
- Abe was killed at a campaign event
Abe was on a street in the city of Nara, western Japan, when he was killed on Friday.
He was speaking at an event for the Liberal Democratic Party ahead of Japan’s House of Councilors elections, which are due to take place on Sunday.
Abe was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, Japan’s current ruling party, for decades.
He served as the country’s prime minister and chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party from 2006 to 2007, and again from 2012 to 2020.
- The attacker used a homemade firearm
Officials told reporters that Yamagami, who admitted to shooting Abe, used a homemade firearm to assassinate the former leader, according to multiple news outlets.
The gun, which could be seen in video of the attack, appeared to have two barrels held together by tape.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing sources within the shooting investigation, that the gun was one of several Yamagami made from steel pipe and duct tape. He told police he purchased the parts he used to make the weapons online, according to the outlet.
Gun ownership and gun violence are rare in Japan, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the world. The country bans handguns and only allows residents to own shotguns and air rifles if they go through a rigorous licensing process that involves a mental health assessment, a background check and both a written exam and an accuracy test on a shooting range, among other steps. This process must then be repeated every three years to renew the license.
Once licensed owners have obtained firearms, they are also required to register them with the police, who must inspect them annually, and provide authorities with information on how the firearms and ammunition is stored.
- Police are investigating the shooter’s motives
Japanese authorities are scrambling to find out why Yamagami murdered the former prime minister, with the gunman claiming his motive had nothing to do with Abe’s politics.
Investigative sources told the Japanese Times that Yamagami said he attacked Abe because he believed the former prime minister promoted a religious group that bankrupted his mother.
The gunman reportedly told authorities that he initially planned to attack a leader of this religious group, to which his mother made large donations, before setting his sights on Abe.
- Abe’s safety comes under scrutiny after his assassination
The seemingly light security protections for Abe on the day of the assassination drew attention in the wake of his death.
Cars passed behind the former prime minister as he spoke, as the road was not blocked for his speech and the crowd was only yards away from him, the Japanese Times reported.
Japan’s National Police Agency said it would investigate whether there were any breaches in Abe’s security, according to the outlet.
During his speech, Abe was to be protected by a team consisting of authorities from the security division of the Nara Prefectural Police Department and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.
Nara Prefectural Police Chief Tomoaki Onizuka said on Saturday there were ‘undeniable’ issues with the security of the former prime minister and promised a ‘thorough investigation’ would be carried out, according to The Guardian .
“I believe it is undeniable that there were issues with custody and security arrangements for former Prime Minister Abe,” Onizuka said.
“In all the years since I became a police officer in 1995…there is no greater remorse, no greater regret than this,” he added.
- Abe’s body transported to Tokyo
After being pronounced dead, Abe was transported from Nara Prefecture Hospital to Tokyo, according to The Japanese Times.
Senior Liberal Democratic Party officials were at his home in the capital when his body arrived to pay their respects, according to the outlet.
A wake will be held for Abe on Monday, followed by a funeral on Tuesday, CNN reported, citing Abe’s office. NHK reported that only family and others close to the former prime minister would attend the funeral, which his widow will hold at a temple in Tokyo, according to CNN.
Abe’s shooting sparked an outpouring of statements expressing shock and sadness from world leaders.
“I am stunned, outraged and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed during his campaign,” President Biden said in a statement released by the White House. “It is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew it.”
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