Japanese officials to discuss funeral arrangements for slain former leader Shinzo Abe

The former prime minister’s funeral will take place Monday and Tuesday, Abe’s office told CNN, with a wake Monday, followed by a memorial service Tuesday.

The funeral will be hosted by his widow at a temple in Tokyo, Japanese state broadcaster NHK reported, adding that attendance would be limited to family members and people close to Abe.

As Abe’s body arrived at the house, police continued to question the suspected shooter who had previously admitted to the murder and at whose home police found several types of homemade weapons assembled with iron pipes, authorities said.
The fact that a former prime minister could be shot at close range while delivering a speech in broad daylight in a country with one of the lowest gun crime rates in the world has reverberated in Japan And in the world. Presidents, prime ministers and other international leaders have sent tributes expressing their outrage and sadness at the killing.

Abe, 67, was pronounced dead by medics at Nara Medical University Hospital at 5:03 p.m. local time on Friday, just over five hours after he was shot while delivering a campaign speech outside a small crowd in a street.

At the time of the shooting, Abe was speaking in favor of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates ahead of Sunday’s Upper House elections, which are still due to take place. Although he resigned as Prime Minister of Japan in 2020 for health reasons, Abe remained an influential figure in the country’s political landscape and continued to campaign for the LDP.

Abe arrived at hospital in cardiac arrest and despite a team of medical staff battling to resuscitate him, the former prime minister died of excessive bleeding from gunshot wounds to the neck and heart, doctors said.

Outside Abe’s residence in Tokyo on Saturday, hundreds of people gathered in the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of the car carrying his body. People of all ages told CNN they were in disbelief and saddened by Abe’s passing.

“I didn’t expect something like this to happen to someone who was the leader of Japan for so long – it’s generally so safe here and we don’t have gun crimes. “said Takashi Uchida, 57.

Student Ryogo Uto, 18, said Abe’s death was “so sudden” that she “still hasn’t sunk”.

“Abe was a respected leader who did a lot for Japan while in power,” he said.

Lines of tearful mourners also gathered to lay flowers and kneel at a makeshift memorial outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara, near where Abe was murdered.

Suspect admits shooting

Police have opened a murder investigation into the slaying, but little is known about the suspect who was arrested at the scene of the fatal shooting on Friday.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, admitted shooting Abe with a homemade weapon, Nara Nishi police said at a press conference on Friday. Yamagami, who is unemployed, told investigators he had hatred towards a certain group he thought Abe was connected to. Police did not name the group.

Footage from the scene showed what appeared to be a weapon with two cylindrical metal barrels wrapped in black tape. Police said the weapon recovered from the shooting measures 40 centimeters long by 20 centimeters wide.

Authorities then confiscated several items similar to handmade guns from the suspect’s apartment. Police said the suspect made the weapons himself using parts purchased online.

What appears to be a homemade weapon on the ground near where a security guard grabbed the suspect outside Yamatosaidaiji station on July 8 in Nara, Japan.

During the search of the residence, police found several types of guns with iron pipes wrapped in duct tape, NHK reported – the guns had three, five and six such pipes as barrels. The suspect inserted bullets into the pipes, police reportedly said.

They believe the suspect used the most powerful homemade weapon in the assassination, NHK added.

Japan’s National Police Agency said it would review security measures put in place ahead of Friday’s shooting, according to NHK. Security was provided by the Nara Prefectural Police, who drew up a security plan for the former prime minister during his stay in the city.

The agency said several dozen Tokyo Metropolitan Police officers and security personnel were on duty and observed Abe from all sides during his speech, NHK said.

Japan’s “JFK moment”

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister who defined the country’s politics for a generation.

He will be remembered for increasing defense spending, pushing through the most dramatic change in Japanese military policy in 70 years, and his vast experience designed to pull the Japanese economy out of decades of stagnation, known as the of “Abenomics”.

Shinzo Abe, Japan's Longest-serving Prime Minister, Defined Politics for a Generation
Abe’s former special adviser Tomohiko Taniguchi said the former prime minister was “one of Japan’s most transformative leaders” and described his murder as the equivalent of the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy.

“I think it will be the equivalent of the day JFK was assassinated… It was a day of sadness, grief, disbelief and, for me, tremendous anger. People are hurting a lot to digest reality,” Taniguchi said on Friday.

US President Joe Biden called Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday “to express his outrage, sadness and deep condolences” over the “tragic and violent shooting death” of Abe, the White House said.

CNN’s Junko Ogura, Pierre Meilhan, Rhea Mogul, Jake Kwon and Chie Kobayashi contributed reporting.

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