Five things to know about the assassination of Shinzo Abe

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 stepping down from the role in 2020. He was shot in the back while giving a speech outdoors and was quickly airlifted to a hospital, but was pronounced dead hours later.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested for the assassination shortly Abe was shot. He has admitted to killing the former leader.

Here are five things to know about the assassination:

  1. Abe was killed during a campaign event

Abe was on a street in the city of Nara in western Japan when he was killed on Friday. 

He was speaking at an event for the Liberal Democratic Party ahead of elections for Japan’s House of Councillors, which are set to take place Sunday. 

Abe was a member of the Liberal Democratic Party, Japan’s current governing party, for decades. 

He served as prime minister of the country and president of the Liberal Democratic Party from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 to 2020. 

  1. Attacker used handmade gun

Officials told reporters that Yamagami, who has admitted to fatally shooting Abe, used a handmade gun to assassinate the former leader, according to multiple outlets.

The gun, which could be seen in video of the attack, appeared to have two barrels held together by duct tape.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported, citing sources inside the investigation into the shooting, that the gun was one of several Yamagami made out of steel pipes and adhesive tape. He told police he purchased the parts he used to make the guns online, per the outlet.

Gun ownership and gun violence are both rare in Japan, which has some of the world’s strictest gun laws. The country bans handguns and allows residents to possess shotguns and air rifles only if they undergo a rigorous licensing process that involves a mental health evaluation, background check and both a written exam and an accuracy test at a shooting range, among other steps. That process must then be repeated every three years to renew the license.

Once licensed owners have obtained guns, they are also required to register them with police, who must inspect them annually, and to provide authorities with information about how the weapons and ammunition are stored.

  1. Police investigating shooter’s motives

Authorities in Japan are working to uncover why Yamagami assassinated the former prime minister, with the shooter claiming his motive did not have 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 caused his mother to go bankrupt. 

The shooter allegedly told authorities he initially planned to attack a leader of this religious group, to which his mother made large donations, before setting his sights on Abe.

  1. Security for Abe receives scrutiny after assassination

The apparently light security protections for Abe on the day of the assassination have attracted scrutiny in the aftermath of his death.

Cars were passing behind the former prime minister while he spoke, as the road was not blocked off for his speech, and the crowd was only feet from him, The Japanese Times reported

Japan’s National Police Agency said it will be investigating if there were any flaws in Abe’s security, per the outlet.

During his speech, Abe was to be protected by a team made up of authorities from the Nara prefectural police department’s security division and Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department.

The head of the Nara prefectural police, Tomoaki Onizuka, on Saturday said that there were “undeniable” issues with the former prime minister’s security and vowed that a “thorough investigation” would be conducted, according to The Guardian.

“I believe it is undeniable that there were problems with the guarding and safety measures 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 bigger regret than this,” he added.

  1. Abe’s body taken to Tokyo

After he was declared dead, Abe was taken from the hospital in the Nara prefecture to Tokyo, according to The Japanese Times. 

Senior members of the Liberal Democratic Party were at his home in the capital city 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 be in attendance at the funeral, which his widow will host at a Tokyo temple, according to CNN.

Abe’s shooting was met with an outpouring of statements expressing shock and sadness from leaders around the world.

“I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning,” President Biden said in a statement issued by the White House. “This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him.”