In a twist of fate, Tokyo, the country notorious for its strict gun laws, is mourning the loss of their widely beloved Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after a shooting.
Former Prime Minister Abe got shot twice while giving a campaign speech in the city of Nara on Friday morning, not falling until the second shot got fired. After firing shots, Abe’s assailant, Tetsuya Yamagami, was arrested on the scene.
On Friday, the Kyodo News said, “The weapon used by Abe’s assailant made a noise that could be compared to an explosion, and white smoke rose into the air after it was discharged. A gunpowder-like smell could be detected afterward.”
As word of Abe’s assassination spread, world leaders and civilians jointly mourn the loss of someone they described as deeply caring. Even Vladimir Putin told the death of Abe as an ‘irreplaceable loss.’
Just three hours ago, Japanese police released the name of Abe’s 41-year-old assailant, Tetsuya Yamagami; however, he claims to have not killed Abe over his political beliefs. Police told the media that they had established a 90-person task force to investigate the shooting.
Gun violence is extremely rare in Japan, where handguns are banned – and incidents of political violence are almost unheard of. However, the suspect’s past can lead one to conclude that he knew of making a homemade handgun. The police extended the fact that the suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, formerly worked as a Maritime Self-Defense Force Member, serving three years.
Yamagami initially tried fleeing the scene; thankfully, security quickly managed to catch up to him. During his questioning, police searched for a motive, even after identifying him as the killer. Soon into questioning, a senior police officer in Japan’s Nara region told reporters, “The suspect stated that he held a grudge against a particular organization and that he committed the crime because he believed former prime minister Abe had a connection to it,” however the officer declined to give further details when asked. The refusal to disclose made many members of the public question why the organization was being protected.
The investigation remains ongoing, with officials saying they will also look into the level of security at the event.
Investigating police revealed that upon Yamagami’s house search, they found several homemade weapons similar to the one used in the attack. While searching the suspect’s residence, several homemade weapons that resembled the one used during the attack were discovered. The gun was said to be 40 cm long and 20 cm high, but they also implied they were handling it carefully due to “the danger of a detonation.”
Before Abe’s death was confirmed, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned the attack, saying the acts were “barbaric, malicious and cannot be tolerated,” Kishida said, “it was an act of brutality that happened during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and is absolutely unforgivable.”