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Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Assassinated at Campaign Event

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Assassinated at Campaign Event

Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead on Friday while delivering a campaign speech in the city of Nara, just east of Osaka, according to CNN.

Among Japan’s most prominent politicians, Abe, 67, was the longest-serving prime minister before he stepped down two years ago. He had traveled to Nara to speak on behalf of Liberal Democratic Party candidates in advance of the Upper House elections, which are scheduled to take place on Sunday. A harrowing video captured the seconds before the shooting took place.

Tomohiko Taniguchi, a special adviser to the former prime minister, described the assassination as a monumental loss for the country.

“I think it’s going to be an equivalent of JFK’s assassination day. . . It’s been a day of sadness, grief, disbelief, and for me, tremendous anger,” Taniguchi said. “People are finding it very much hard to digest the reality. I think it’s very much an isolated event conducted by very much an isolated person. Nonetheless, that isolated incident killed one of the most transformative leaders of Japanese history.”

Suspect Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested in connection with the murder, and reportedly admitted to shooting Abe with a homemade gun. Several similar homemade weapons were seized during a subsequent raid of the man’s home. According to police, Yamagami said he harbored hatred for a particular group with which he believed Abe had some connection. 

As a result of the country’s stringent gun laws, such shootings are rare in Japan, where there were only nine gun-related deaths in 2018 compared to 39,740 in the U.S. that same year.

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