Japan is mourning after its former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated by a gunmen while giving a speech in the city of Nara, with a suspect already in custody, authorities say.
Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old Nara resident, was detained by police immediately after the fatal shooting. Yamagami allegedly waited for authorities at the time of his arrest, Japanese news outlet NHK reported.
The gun used by Yamagami was reportedly homemade, with the gunman currently being held for questioning at Nara Nishi police station. Authorities have since confiscated several handmade pistol-like items from his apartment, according to CNN.
Abe, 67, was Prime Minister in Japan from 2012 until 2020.
Video obtained by NHK shows Abe as he collapses immediately after being shot, with the sound of a loud bag drawing the attention of police, who eventually wrested the gunman to the ground close to where the former Prime Minister had been standing.
While authorities have yet to reveal an exact motive for the killing, the suspect said he holds hatred toward a particular group which he believed Abe was linked to, according to police.
Friday’s Shooting Will Change Japan “Forever” – Security Expert Says
Nancy Snow, Japan director of the International Security Industrial Council, told CNN that Abe’s assassination will change the country “forever.”
“It’s not only rare, but it’s really culturally unfathomable,” Snow told the outlet. “The Japanese people can’t imagine having a gun culture like we have in the United States. This is a speechless moment. I really feel at a loss for words. I pray for the best for the former prime minister. What this will do to the national psyche of a people who move about freely and have a social contract with each other, that they will not resort to this type of violence … I am devastated thinking about that.”
Snow added that Japan has been an “oasis” in terms of gun violence and had “shown what it can teach the US about guns” prior to Friday’s assassination of Abe, a very public figure in Japan and abroad. The U.S. just met an unwanted milestone after clocking in over 300 mass shootings this year after the most recent tragedy in Highland Park, according to NPR.
“I think (Friday’s shooting) will change Japan, unfortunately forever,” she added.
Clearest vid yet of former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe being assassinated by what appears to be the second slug in a hand made shotgun by Tetsuya Yamagami.@MaajidNawaz pic.twitter.com/pmsEHkiH6C
— SuzeeB🙂 (@NatalieSuB) July 8, 2022
A Country Known For Lack of Gun Crime, Shocked By Fatal Abe Shooting
Japan, which has one of the lowest rates of gun crime worldwide due to its extremely strict gun control laws, has expressed shock and disbelief following Abe’s assassination.
For comparison, the United States had nearly 40,000 deaths from firearms in 2018. Meanwhile, Japan reported only nine. In 2019, only an estimated 310,400 guns were possessed by Japanese citizens out of a population of around 125 million people, per CNN.
While Japanese citizens can buy and own certain firearms – air rifles and shotguns to be precise – others like handguns are banned. Prospective gun buyers in Japan must take an all-day course, pass a written test alongside a background check, which rigorously reviews everything from personal debt to criminal records and even relationships to family and friends.
The gun used in Friday’s shooting used was described as a handmade firearm, according to CNN.
The country began tightening its gun control laws after the mayor of Nagasaki, Iccho Ito, was shot several times in the back in 2007. allegedly by a known gang member.
Abe was the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in history before stepping down as leader in 2020 for health reasons.