JAPAN: He planned the murder of Shinzo Abe for months, believing the former Japanese leader was linked to a religious sect he blamed for his mother’s financial devastation, authorities said on Saturday (Jul 9).
Tatsuya Yamagami, the 41-year-old man who shot and wounded Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, was identified by police as the gunman. The crime was caught on tape and stunned a nation where gun violence is extremely rare.
To get behind Abe and fire two bullets from a 40cm-long weapon taped to his back, the suspect, who had shaggy brown hair and was wirey-eyed and bespectacled, was seen walking into the road. At the scene, he was taken into custody by police.
Neighbors told Reuters that Yamagami was a recluse who did not respond when spoken to. To him, Abe’s religious group was a “big donation,” according to Kyodo news, which cited investigation sources.
The Yomiuri newspaper and other media outlets stated that he told authorities that his mother had gone bankrupt as a result of the donation.
Police sources quoted him as saying, “My mum got caught up in the religion and I hated it,” Kyodo reported him as saying. Yamagami’s motives and preparations have not been confirmed by Nara police, according to reports in Japanese media.
The religious organization with whom he was apparently dissatisfied has remained anonymous in the media.
Using parts purchased online, Yamagami built a homemade weapon that he planned to use for months, including attending subsequent Abe campaign events, according to media reports.
The Japanese broadcaster NHK said he had contemplated bombing before deciding on a rifle.
According to NHK, the guy admitted to authorities that he manufactured the firearms by stapling together steel pipes, some of which had three, five or six pipes.
Japanese police say they’ve found bullet holes in a campaign van sign near the scene of the shooting, and suspect they were fired by gunman Yamagami. After the first shot, Abe appeared to turn toward the attacker before collapsing to the ground.
An eight-story building housing a collection of modest flats housed Yamagami and her roommates. Bars abound on the ground floor, where customers can spend money to drink and converse with female hosts. One karaoke bar was forced to close its doors due to lack of patronage.
A cost-saving design, the elevator only stops at three stories. To go to his apartment, Yamagami would have had to get out of the car and climb a flight of steps.
Three days before Abe’s assassination, a 69-year-old woman who resided a floor below him spotted him.
“When I said hello, he turned his back on me. He wasn’t hiding anything; he was just staring at the ground. He was visibly shaken,” Reuters spoke to the woman only by her surname, Nakayama. “I felt as if I were completely obliterated. He appeared to be bothered by something.”
It costs her 35,000 yen (US$260) a month to rent, and she believes her neighbors are paying the same amount of rent.
Yamagami’s neighbor, a Vietnamese woman named Mai, stated he appeared to be solitary. “I ran across him a few times. He didn’t respond when I bowed to him in the elevator.”