Saturday, 09 July 2022 06:40

Who assasinated ex-Japan PM, Shinzo Abe and why? Here’s what we know so far

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In a country where gun violence is rare, the murder of former Japanese leader Shinzo Abe is raising questions about the shooter and his motive. Here’s what we know based on media reports and official statements.

What happened?

Abe had just begun a campaign speech in the western city of Nara on Friday when he was shot from behind, from a distance of about three meters (10 feet). Two gunshots were heard. Moments later security personnel tackled a man to the floor. He was wearing a gray t-shirt, khaki trousers and a face mask.

Who was the shooter?

The gunmen has been identified as Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, an unemployed former member of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force — Japan’s navy — who is being investigated for murder following the confirmation of Abe’s death. NHK reported that he worked for the force from 2002 to 2005.

What has the suspect said?

Yamagami told police he held a grudge against a "certain group," and that he intended to kill Abe because he believed Abe had ties to that group. Separately, NHK reported that the suspect claimed not to have attacked the former PM over his political beliefs. The Mainichi newspaper characterized the target of the suspect's enmity as a religious group, and also claimed he was aiming at a religious leader who wasn’t attending the rally, adding to the confusion. 

What weapon did he use?

Police said the gun was homemade, about 40 centimeters long and 20 centimeters high. A close-up shot of the weapon on the ground appeared to show two tubes wrapped together with black tape.

What are the police doing now?

Police discovered several more guns, also homemade, at the suspect's residence. Explosives experts were also summoned to the scene due to concerns the handcrafted weapons may unexpectedly explode.