The people of Japan are in a state of shock after the violent death of the former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the country’s most influential politician of recent decades, who was shot while making a campaign speech in the western city of Nara on Friday.
Japan’s longest-serving leader will be remembered primarily for his political staying power, having returned to office in 2012, six years after being forced out by scandal and poor health.
His signature “Abenomics” policy, which sought to lift the world’s third-biggest economy out of decades of stagnation, attracted more international attention than is usually reserved for Japanese leaders. On the foreign policy front, his support for a more prominent role for Japan’s military to counter growing threats from North Korea and a more assertive China won praise in Washington but engendered suspicion in Beijing.
A conservative from a family with a strong political pedigree, Abe believed Japan should end decades of “masochistic” reflection over its role in the second world war – a revisionist approach that led to a dramatic deterioration in ties between Japan and South Korea.
Police name suspected attacker and say they have found multiple handmade weapons at his house
Police in Nara, the Japanese city where former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead earlier today, have said at a media briefing that they have confiscated several similar homemade weapons to those used in the attack from a search at the suspect’s house.
They told the media that a 90-person taskforce has been established to investigate the crime, and that Shinzo Abe was confirmed dead at 5.03pm local time.
The suspect, unemployed 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, was apprehended at the site, and the police stated that he has admitted to shooting the former prime minister with a homemade weapon.
The suspect told police that he believed Abe was part of a “specific organisation” which Yamagami had a grudge against. The police would not reveal the name of the organisation.
The police claim to have confiscated several similar homemade weapons to that used in the attack from a search at the suspect’s house. They described the weapon as being 40cm long and 20cm high, but also implied they were treating it with caution due to “the possibility of a detonation”.
Police would not say whether any bullets were found at the scene.
The police say they believe the suspect travelled to the event by train, but they would not specify how long Yamagami had waited for Abe. They also said their investigation will include the level of security at the event.
The Nara police stalled several questions by saying that because of the implications to ongoing investigations, they were unwilling to disclose further information.