The former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, was assassinated Friday during a campaign speech in the city of Nara, located in Western Japan. He was 67 years old. Abe left the office of Prime Minister in 2020. He was the longest-serving Prime Minister of Japan.
Some described Abe as a “kingmaker.”
While Abe was on the stage Friday, a gunman approached him from behind and shot him. Abe was taken to the hospital in “severe condition” and died hours later. Japanese news outlets said that when emergency medical teams arrived at the scene, Abe had already lost consciousness and was in active cardiac arrest.
Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, a member of the same political party as Abe, held a press conference at the Prime Minister’s office shortly after the shooting. Kishida described the attack “dastardly and barbaric.”
Kishida said that such a crime, particularly taking place during the election season, “is absolutely unforgivable.”
Once Abe’s death was announced, multiple world leaders send their sympathies. Abe had worked alongside world leaders such as President Donald Trump, French President Emanuel Macron, and Canadian President Justin Trudeau, as well as a host of others.
The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, described Abe as “a wonderful person, great democrat, and champion of the multilateral world.”
President Trump spoke of the great friendship between the two, calling Abe “a unifier like no other.”
Abe had also met with Presidents Bush and Barack Obama during his years as Japan’s Prime Minister. President Joe Biden publicly said that he was “outraged” to hear of the shooting and later passing of Abe.
So, who is the man alleged to have shot and killed former Prime Minister Abe?
The 41-year-old man, Tetsuya Yamagami, told police that “he was dissatisfied with the ex-leader and watned to kill him.” However, Yamagami said that his desire to kill Abe had nothing to do with political beliefs.
Yamagami, who is a native of Nara, was arrested on charges of attempted murder. Japanese news media are reporting that since Abe’s death, the charges are likely to be upgraded.
A witness at the political campaign told Japanese broadcasting company NHK that the crowd heard a shot, but that Abe did not initially collapse. A second shot rang out, and only then did Abe fall to the ground.
The gunman did not attempt to run, according to the witness.
Officials for Japan’s Ministry of Defense say that the gun alleged to be utilized in assassinating Abe “appears to be homemade.” The officials also shared that Yamagami is known to have served for three years in Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force between 2002 and 2005.
A report released by Kyodo News said that the gun allegedly utilized by the suspect did not make a traditional gunshot noise, but that the sound could only be described as an “explosion.” Witness saw white smoke rise in the air, and they reported being able to smell gunpowder in the aftermath of the shooting.
Yamagami was allegedly captured on video “scanning his surroundings” in the moments leading up to the gunshots. He was later tackled and taken to the ground by law enforcement on the scene.
Upon searching Yamagami’s apartment, authorities say they have found multiple devices that might be utilized as explosives.