Tetsuya Yamagami: What we know about the suspect who shot Shinzo Abe

Tetsuya Yamagami: What we know about the suspect who shot Shinzo Abe
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Abe, 67, was pronounced dead by doctors at Nara Medical University Hospital at 5:03 p.m. local time on Friday, just five hours after he was shot while giving a campaign speech to a small crowd on the street.

Nara Nishi police said at a press conference on Friday that 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami confessed to shooting Abe.

He was taken to the Nara District Prosecutor’s Office on Sunday morning and is being investigated as a “murder suspect,” police said.

Nara Nishi police said Yamagami, who is unemployed, told investigators that he hated a certain group that he thought Abe was associated with.

According to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News Agency, Yamagami also quoted police as saying that his mother was involved in the group.

Police did not release the name of the group, saying they could not release any information to CNN.

Kyodo News reported that at least two people who interacted with him described Yamagami as a “completely normal” and outwardly “serious” person.

Citing an unnamed “former senior colleague,” the agency said he was hired through a dispatch agency in October 2020 to work in the shipping department of a factory in Kyoto Prefecture.

A former colleague described Yamagami as reserved.

“If it was a business conversation, he would answer, but he didn’t go into his personal life. He seemed mild-mannered,” Kyodo News reported. The former colleague added that Yamagami would “eat lunch alone in his car” and “the conversation with him never got off topic.”

According to the Kyodo News Agency, the former colleague said there were no problems during the first six months of working with Yamagami until he began to show “gradual disregard” for her work practices.

In March, Yamagami began taking “unauthorized leaves of absence” and spoke of “heart problems” and other physical problems, although he had no previous problems with punctuality or attendance. According to the agency, his employment ended on May 15.

According to Kyodo News Agency, an unnamed employee of the dispatch agency who interviewed Yamagami for the job called him “totally normal” but added that he “didn’t talk much” and “made him feel a little gloomy.”

What weapon was fired?

Police said the suspect used an improvised weapon in the shooting, and footage from the scene showed a gun with two cylindrical metal barrels wrapped in black tape. Later, the authorities seized several items similar to a handgun from the suspect’s apartment.

According to the police, the weapon was a gun-like object measuring 40 centimeters long and 20 centimeters wide.

What appears to be a homemade weapon near where a security officer apprehended a suspect in Nara, Japan on July 8.

Japan’s public broadcaster NHK reported, citing police, that Yamagami made several types of weapons out of iron pipes wrapped in adhesive tape. The police found a gun with three, five and six iron tubes as the barrel.

According to NHK, the suspect put bullets in a hand-made pistol, parts of which he bought online. Police believe the suspect used the most powerful weapon he had developed in the plot, NHK added.

What was the suspect’s plan?

According to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK, the suspect initially told investigators that he intended to kill Abe with an explosive device.

Yamagami originally planned to kill Abe at the event in Okayama Prefecture, about three hours from Nara, NHK reported.

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

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

How did the security forces react to this?

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

Japan's strict gun laws make shootings rare

NHK TV reported that Japan’s National Police Agency said it would review the security measures taken before Friday’s shooting. The Nara Prefectural Police, which prepared a security plan while the former prime minister was in town, handled security.

NHK said the agency said several dozen officers and security personnel from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police were on duty and watched from all sides during Abe’s speech.

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