A day after his assassination rocked the world, police investigators are trying to uncover the motives behind the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Although the shooter denied political motives, he told police the attack had been planned for months.
Abe was shot dead from behind in the western city of Nara while speaking at a campaign rally ahead of Sunday’s general election.
Police arrested Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, at the scene. Yamagami, an unemployed former seaman in the Japanese Naval Forces, confessed to the murder, in which he used a hand-made firearm, according to police.
Police said Yamagami told them he went to Okayama, another western city, where Abe gave another campaign speech the day before the shooting, according to Kyodo News, which cited “investigative sources.”
According to police, Yamagami denied any political motivation for the assassination.
Yamagami mentioned his mother’s bankruptcy after she made a donation to an unnamed religious organization with which Abe allegedly had ties, according to Japanese media reports.
Friday’s shooting took place in a country where gun violence and political attacks are rare. Police searched Yamagami’s home and found other improvised weapons, including hand-made explosives, reports NPR’s Anthony Kuhn.
Anyone with even a limited knowledge of how guns work could have made the gun used in the attack, firearms commentator Tetsuya Tsuda told Reuters. Tsuda said the weapon could have been made in less than half a day.
Nara Prefectural Police Chief Tomoaki Onizuka admitted there were security issues and apologized for not being able to prevent the attack, according to reports from Kyodo News.
Japan has one of the lowest rates of gun ownership and gun violence in the world, with just one person killed by gun violence in 2021, according to the country’s National Police Agency.
The Gun Violence Archive recorded over 45,000 gun deaths in the United States that same year.