Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Assassinated

Photo credit: Kyodo

The former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe has died after being shot while making a campaign speech. It was the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since prewar militarism in the 1930s, which shocked Japan. 

The assassination has plunged Japan into grief as it tries to come to terms with the loss of the longest-serving leader. The 67-year-old resigned in 2020. 

Political violence is rare in Japan, as is gun violence. Guns are tightly controlled in the country. 

Current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Abe’s protege, struggled to keep his emotions from showing as he spoke about the assassination.

“This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and is absolutely unforgivable,” said Kishida. 

The hospital tried to save him, but he bled to death from two shots, which left deep wounds to the heart and to the neck. 

An arrest was made for the assassination. Police say a 41-year-old man, Tetsuya Yamagami, was apprehended at the site and admitted to shooting Abe with a homemade gun. 

A public broadcaster in Japan, NHK, quoted Yamagami as saying to the police that he was dissatisfied with Abe and wanted to kill him. Police said that Yamagami also said that he had a grudge against a specific group he believed Abe was connected too. But who that group is, and why the former Prime Minister was targeted out of the other people in the group, remains unclear. 

Japan has almost a “zero tolerance” of gun ownership. Experts say this approach has led to extremely low rates of gun crime. The number of gun deaths a year rarely exceeds 10. 

Abe’s speech was part of a campaign for his former party, the Liberal Democratic Party. There are going to be upper house elections in the country later this week. 

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