Shinzo Abe’s body taken back to Tokyo after suspected gunman admits killing former PM

Shinzo Abe’s body is being brought back to Japan’s capital after the former prime minister was murdered during a campaign speech.

Mr Abe, 67, was shot twice from behind while speaking at a campaign rally in the city of Nara – the first assassination of a sitting or former Japanese prime minister since the 1930s.

He sustained two deep neck wounds that damaged an artery, and died five-and-a-half hours after the late morning attack.

Japan's former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe

Police said 41-year-old Yamagami Tetsuya, who was tackled and arrested moments after the incident, admitted shooting Mr Abe with a homemade gun.

According to a report in The Japan Times, Tetsuya had initially planned to attack the leader of a religious group, with police quoted as saying he had a grudge against a “specific organisation” he believed was linked to Mr Abe.

Tetsuya was reported to be an unemployed factory worker who had also been a member of Japan’s Maritime Defence Force.

A man believed to be the suspect is held by police. 
Pic: Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters
A man believed to be the suspect is held by police.
Pic: Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters

LDP officials pray to the vehicle believed to be carrying the body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Officials pray to the vehicle believed to be carrying the body of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe

On Saturday a steady stream of mourners were visiting the scene in Nara, as a motorcade thought to be carrying Mr Abe’s body left the hospital.

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The motorcade, also carrying Mr Abe’s wife Akie, left the hospital in Kashihara, Nara Prefecture, just before 6am, with local media reporting it was heading for his residence in Tokyo.

People pray at a makeshift memorial near the scene where the former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot. Pic: AP
Pic: AP

A night vigil will be held on Monday, with Mr Abe’s funeral to take place on Tuesday, attended by close friends, Japanese media said.

There was no immediate word on any plans for a public memorial service.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the latest in a long line of world leaders to send a message of condolence on Saturday following Mr Abe’s death.

Tributes have also come from the leaders of the US, UK, South Korea, Brazil. Israel, Canada, France, Australia, Ukraine, Russia, and New Zealand, among others.

Meanwhile, campaigning resumed on the final day of electioneering before voting for the upper house of parliament.

The election is expected to deliver victory to the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, with the Liberal Democratic Party, where Mr Abe retained considerable influence, expected to gain seats.

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