‘Homemade gun’ recovered from scene of Shinzo Abe shooting

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Japanese authorities believe that the gun that was used to assassinate former prime minister Shinzo Abe in the western city of Nara on Friday morning was homemade.

Mr Abe succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Kashihara City, Nara Prefecture after he was shot during a campaign speech.

Officials said Mr Abe had a wound on the right side of his neck and suffered subcutaneous bleeding on the left side of his chest. He suffered a cardiopulmonary arrest before reaching hospital, meaning his breathing and heartbeat had both stopped.

The 67-year-old was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, having served two separate stretches in the post.

Police have arrested a suspect, identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, who made no attempt to run when leaped upon by security guards. Officials also recovered a “homemade gun” from him.

The suspect was “holding a cylinder-shaped object”, which released a “white smoke” from its tip, according to state broadcaster NHK.

Witnesses said that two loud gunshots were heard around 11.30am on Friday, and Mr Abe collapsed on the street, clutching his chest.

“I thought it was firecrackers at first,” one bystander said.

Officers investigate the site where former PM Shinzo Abe was shot while making a speech in front of Yamatosaidaiji Station on 8 July in Nara, Japan (The Asahi Shimbun via Getty)
Officers investigate the site where former PM Shinzo Abe was shot while making a speech in front of Yamatosaidaiji Station on 8 July in Nara, Japan (The Asahi Shimbun via Getty)

Dramatic footage from Friday morning showed officials pinning down the suspect, while the firearm that looked like a rudimentary shotgun lay on the ground nearby.

Details on Mr Yamagami are scant at present, but he is believed to be a resident of Nara and a veteran of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force, serving between 2002 and 2005.

Following initial questioning, police officials stated that he was “dissatisfied with former prime minister Abe and aimed to kill him”.

“It is not a grudge against the former prime minister’s political beliefs,” he reportedly said.

Police officer seizes suspect Tetsuya Yamagami in front of Yamatosaidaiji Station on 8 July in Nara, Japan (The Asahi Shimbun via Getty)
Police officer seizes suspect Tetsuya Yamagami in front of Yamatosaidaiji Station on 8 July in Nara, Japan (The Asahi Shimbun via Getty)

The fatal shooting has shocked the entire country, where gun ownership is strictly controlled.

Prime minister Fumio Kishida abandoned the campaign trail and flew to Tokyo to condemn the attack.

“It is a barbaric act during election campaigning, which is the foundation of democracy, and it is absolutely unforgivable. I condemn this act in the strongest terms,” he said.

Mr Abe, who was the architect behind the revival of Quad, resigned in 2020, cutting his tenure short by a year and a month before it was due to end in September 2021.

Japan has had a history of high-profile assassinations and attempts. Ninety years ago in 1932, former prime minister Inukai Tsuyoshi was assassinated in office by navy soldiers who were allegedly plotting to provoke a war with the US.

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