|Yamagami doesn't deny the intention to kill Abe|
The shooter who shot former Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, told police he initially intended to attack another person. Investigative sources said on Saturday (9/7/2022), the other figure was the leader of a religious group that Yamagami believed had bankrupted his mother through donations. However, Yamagami does not deny that he also has the intention to kill Abe. Quoted from Kyodo News, Yamagami believes Abe has promoted the religious group in Japan. He also denied that he shot Abe for going against the former Japanese prime minister's political beliefs, according to police.
He is also known to have repeatedly visited the location of Abe's speech in Nara, which is in front of Yamato Saidaiji Station. Yamagami shot Abe from close range, about 3 meters, on Friday (8/7/2022) at around 11.30 local time. Abe was speaking for the candidate for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ahead of the election on Sunday (10/7/2022). Citing the Japan Times, a video of the shooting of Abe circulated on social media, showing two shots fired. A high school student who witnessed the shooting told NHK that a man came from behind and fired two shots. "The first shot sounded like a toy bazooka, and the guy then backed off after the first one," said one student.
After the assailant fired a second shot, a large amount of white smoke appeared, he added. Abe was then transported to the Nara Medical University hospital in the city of Kashihara by helicopter. However, Abe died on the same day due to heavy blood loss. On Saturday, Abe's body arrived at his home in Tokyo. According to the BBC, when Abe's hearse arrived, LDP members lined up to pay their respects. According to local media reports, Abe's funeral will take place on Tuesday (12/7/2022). Japan's Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, said he was "speechless", vowing that Japanese democracy "will never succumb to violence." Japanese officials, including the former prime minister, are protected by a special branch of the Tokyo Police.
Armed plainclothes officers known as SP - or Security Police - undergo a rigorous selection process, including expertise in hand-to-hand combat.
They usually stay close to protected politicians, to protect themselves from direct physical threats. There were only 10 firearm-related incidents in Japan last year and only one of them was fatal, according to the National Police Agency. Abe's assassination was the first of a Japanese prime minister or former prime minister, since the 1930s during Japan's pre-war militarism. Former Prime Ministers Saito Makoto and Takahashi Korekiyo were assassinated on the same day in 1936, while Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was assassinated in 1932. Iwao Horii, an LDP member who was standing beside Abe when the shooting occurred, said preparations for the event were unusual.
About 15 party staff were assigned to crowd control and security was handled by the local police. Recently, several campaign events attended by Abe, who is Japan's longest-serving prime minister and one of the country's most influential political figures, have attracted large crowds. A ruling party source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that although Abe has a high profile, the level of security afforded him has likely decreased since he stepped down in 2020. In the aftermath of Abe's shooting, some commentators said security around the former prime minister should have been stronger. "Anyone can hit him from that distance," Masazumi Nakajima, a former Japanese police detective, told Japan's TBS television. "I think the security is a bit too weak." "That person (Shinzo Abe) needs to be protected from all directions," Koichi Ito, a VIP security specialist, told national broadcaster NHK. "If this kind of thing is not done 100 per cent, it is not good." Japan, one of the safest countries in the world, has very strict gun control laws.
The gunman shot Abe with a tool that had a pistol grip and two pipes covered with black electrical tape, according to photos and video images of the incident. Grant Newsham, a retired US Marine officer and former diplomat at the Japan Forum for Strategic Studies, hoped for tougher protections for senior politicians in Japan after the assassination.