The man who killed Shinzo Abe believed the former Japanese leader was linked to a religious group he blamed for his mother’s financial ruin and spent months planning the attack with a homemade gun, police told local media, Saturday.
Tetsuya Yamagami is an unemployed 41-year-old. Wiry and bespectacled with shaggy hair, the suspect was seen stepping into the road behind Abe, who was standing on a riser at an intersection, before unloading two shots from a 40-cm-long (16-inch) weapon wrapped with black tape. He was tackled by police at the scene.
Yamagami was a loner who did not reply when spoken to, neighbours told media agencies. He believed Abe had promoted a religious group that his mother went bankrupt donating to, Kyodo news agency said, citing investigative sources.
“My mother got wrapped up in a religious group and I resented it,” Kyodo and other domestic media quoted him as telling police. Nara police declined to comment on the details reported by Japanese media of Yamagami’s motive or preparation.
Media have not named the religious group he was reportedly upset with. Yamagami made the weapon from parts bought online, spending months plotting the attack, even attending other Abe campaign events, including one a day earlier some 200 km (miles) away, media said. He had considered a bomb attack before opting for a gun, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Police found bullet holes in a sign attached to a campaign van near the site of the shooting and believe they were from Yamagami, police said on Saturday. Videos showed Abe turning toward the attacker after the first shot before crumpling to the ground after the second. Yamagami lived on the eighth floor of a building of small flats. The ground floor is full of bars where patrons pay to drink and chat with female hostesses. One karaoke bar has gone out of business. The elevator stops on only three floors, a cost-saving design. Yamagami would have had to get off and walk up a flight of stairs to his flat.
Meanwhile, a person named Tetsuya Yamagami served in the Maritime Self-Defence Force from 2002 to 2005, a spokesman for Japan’s navy said, declining to say whether this was the suspected killer, as media have reported.