Former Japanese Prime Minister Assassinated, Motive ‘Not Political’

japanese prime minister
Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a speech before he was shot from behind by a man in Nara, a city in western Japan, on Friday. (The Asahi Shimbun/Reuters)

July 8, 2022

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot twice and fatally wounded, while delivering a speech in Nara, Japan on July 8. Police have arrested a 41-year-old man for the shooting, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

Abe was reportedly shot twice, twice in the base of the neck where one was able to pierce his heart. Abe was conscious and responsive immediately following the incident, but his condition deteriorated.

Abe was delivering a campaign speech for a local candidate in Nara, a city near Kyoto, NBC reports. Gunshots were reportedly heard at approximately 11:30 am local time, Friday. Abe was transported to Nara Medical University Hospital. 

Abe was giving a speech for the campaign to re-elect Nara-local Japanese Parliament Upper House candidate Kei Sato, The Japan Times reports. Kei Sato is a Liberal Democrat and Voice of the People candidate who previously served as a special advisor to Abe in 2014. Abe recalled, to the onlooking crowd, Kei’s COVID-19 responses. 

“He was the type of person who didn’t look for reasons not to do something,” said Abe, in the moments before his death. Following the crime, civilians gathered to lay flowers at the scene and to offer prayers for Japan. Abe, a conservative, was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. 

The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, reportedly admitted to shooting Abe with a homemade firearm.  Photographs taken at the scene observed the firearm was made of two steel pipes held together with black gaffer tape, and a handmade trigger. 

Explosives were also found at the suspect’s residence. Japanese media reports that the suspect is a former member of the Japanese defense forces. Investigation revealed that he spent three years in Japan’s naval force. 

The incident has reportedly sent shockwaves through Japan, a country with strict gun control. Speculation rose over the possibly political nature of the killing.

Reports state that the motive does not appear to be political. Yamagami told police he was motivated to kill Abe because he “held a grudge” toward a specific organization Abe was associated with, Nikkei Asia reports. The group has not be named by police interviewing Tetsuya.

Abe was mourned by world leaders on Friday. Fox News remembered Abe as “a conservative kingmaker” who, during his long tenure as prime minister, strengthened ties between Japan and the U.S. 

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