Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is Assassinated
Japan's longest-serving prime minister is shot and killed by an improvised weapon during a campaign speech.
The former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has died after being shot while making a campaign speech, plunging the country into grief as it comes to terms with the loss of its longest-serving leader, writes The Guardian. The 67-year-old, who resigned in 2020, was flown to hospital by helicopter after the attack in the western city of Nara, and pronounced dead about five and a half hours later.
Excerpt from The Guardian: The first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese premier since the days of prewar militarism in the 1930s sent shockwaves through Japan, where political violence is rare and guns are tightly controlled. “This attack is an act of brutality that happened during the elections – the very foundation of our democracy – and is absolutely unforgivable,” said the current prime minister, Fumio Kishida. Footage broadcast by Japanese media showed Abe’s speech interrupted by two loud bangs and smoke, with Abe stumbling to the ground after the second shot. Police said a 41-year-old unemployed man, Tetsuya Yamagami, was apprehended at the site and had admitted to shooting the former prime minister with a homemade weapon.
In a related story from The Guardian, it is reported that Japan has close to zero tolerance of gun ownership and one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the world, making the attack on Shinzo Abe a particularly extraordinary act of violence. A 1958 postwar law on the possession of swords and firearms states: “No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords.”
Excerpt from The Guardian: The pathway to gun ownership in Japan takes 13 steps. First, potential gun owners need to join a hunting or shooting club, they then have to take a firearm class and pass a written exam, before getting a doctor to state they are mentally fit and have no history of drug dependency. They then have to apply to take a full-day course in how to fire a gun and store it safely. The police then interview potential gun owners about why they want a firearm and conduct a thorough background check that involves interviewing members of the person’s family, their relationship with their neighbors, employment history and their financial status.
According to Axios, world leaders from the past and present expressed shock and sadness over the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — a man they described as a "towering global statesman" whose legacy is one of "global impact."
"He was working for peace and stability in Japan and the world," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a press conference. "He was a dear friend who loved this country ... To lose such a figure in this manner is absolutely devastating."
"I am stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened by the news that my friend Abe Shinzo, former Prime Minister of Japan, was shot and killed while campaigning," Biden said in a statement. "This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him."
"This is shocking. It's profoundly disturbing ... It's also such a strong personal loss for so many people. In the United States, Prime Minister Abe was an extraordinary partner. And someone who clearly was a great leader for Japan," Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters in Indonesia, where he is attending a G20 gathering of foreign ministers.