Tetsuya Yamagami: What we know about the man suspected of shooting Shinzo Abe

Abe, 67, was pronounced dead by medics at Nara Medical University Hospital at 5:03 p.m. local time on Friday, just over five hours after he was shot while delivering a campaign speech in front of a small crowd in a street.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, admitted shooting Abe, Nara Nishi police said at a press conference on Friday. Yamagami, who is unemployed, told investigators he had hatred towards a certain group he thought Abe was connected to.

Police did not name the group.

Yamagami is being investigated as a “murder suspect” in a case to which 90 investigators have been assigned, according to police.

He was taken to the Nara District Attorney’s Office on Sunday morning.

Yamagami was described as a “totally normal” and apparently “serious” person by at least two people who had interacted with him, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported.

He was hired through a dispatch agency in October 2020 to work in the freight department of a factory in Kyoto Prefecture, Kyodo News Agency reported, citing an unnamed “former senior colleague”. .

The former colleague called Yamagami reserved.

“If it was a work conversation, he would respond, but he didn’t go into his private life. He seemed sweet,” the former colleague said, according to the Kyodo news agency. The former co-worker added that Yamagami would “eat lunch alone in his car” and “conversations with him never stray from the topic.”

The former colleague said there were no problems with Yamagami during the first six months of his employment, until he began to show “progressive neglect” of work practices, according to the report. Kyodo news agency.

In March, Yamagami began taking “unauthorized leave” and spoke of “heart problems” and other physical issues, although he had no problems with punctuality or attendance. His employment ended on May 15, the agency reported.

An anonymous dispatch agency employee who interviewed Yamagami for the job described him as “totally normal”, but added that he “didn’t say much” and “had a slightly dark meaning to him”. , according to the Kyodo news agency.

What type of weapon was fired?

The suspect used a homemade weapon in the shooting, police said, and footage from the scene showed what appeared to be a weapon with two cylindrical metal barrels wrapped in black duct tape. Authorities then confiscated several items resembling handmade guns from the suspect’s apartment.

The weapon was a gun-like object that measured 40 centimeters (about 16 inches) long and 20 centimeters wide, police said.

Yamagami made several types of firearms out of iron pipes wrapped in duct tape, Japanese state broadcaster NHK reported, citing police. The police found guns with three, five and six iron pipes as barrels.

The suspect inserted bullets into his homemade gun, parts of which he had purchased online, police said, according to NHK. Police believe the suspect used the most powerful weapon he made in the slaying, NHK added.

What was the suspect’s plan?

The suspect told investigators he originally intended to kill Abe using explosives, according to Japanese state broadcaster NHK.

Yamagami originally planned to assassinate Abe at an event in Okayama, a prefecture about a three-hour drive from Nara, NHK reported.

“I was thinking of killing the former prime minister (Okayama) there, but I saw that there were admission procedures at the entrance and I felt that it would be difficult to enter,” said- he told investigators, according to NHK.

Nara Police told CNN on Saturday that surveillance footage showed Yamagami leaving Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara on Friday after arriving by train.

How did the security forces react?

At the time of the shooting, Abe was speaking in support of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates ahead of the July 10 Upper House elections. Despite resigning as Prime Minister of Japan in 2020 for health reasons, Abe remained an influential figure in the country’s political landscape and continued to campaign for the LDP.

Japan's strict gun laws make shootings rare

Japan’s National Police Agency said it would review security measures put in place ahead of Friday’s shooting, according to NHK. Security was provided by the Nara Prefectural Police, who drew up a security plan for the former prime minister during his stay in the city.

The agency said several dozen Tokyo Metropolitan Police officers and security personnel were on duty and observed Abe from all sides during his speech, NHK said.

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