Tokyo -- On Saturday, the body of Shinzo Abe, Japan's former Prime Minster, was returned to Tokyo after he was shot in the head during a speech in western Japan on Friday.
Abe was attacked in Nara. He was airlifted by the local hospital, but succumbed to blood loss after receiving emergency treatment that included massive blood transfusions. The attacker, who was a former member the Japan's navy, was arrested on the spot by police under suspicion of murder. The attacker was arrested by police at the scene with a homemade gun. Later, several other guns were found at his apartment.
According to police, Tetsuya Yamagami told investigators that the attacker planned the attack because he believed that Abe was linked to an organization he dislikes. Japanese media reported that the man was hostile to a religious group his mother believed in. However, the name of the group was not mentioned in these reports.
A hearse in black carrying Abe's body, accompanied by Akie, his wife, arrived at Abe's home in Tokyo's elite residential area of Shibuya. Many mourners waited and lowered the heads as the vehicle passed.
The nation was shocked by Abe's assassination just before Sunday's parliamentary elections. It raised concerns about the security of the former prime minister.
Police said Saturday that autopsy results revealed that Abe was shot by a bullet into his upper left arm, which caused severe bleeding.
Some observers who viewed the assassination via social media noted that Abe was not paying attention to the open space behind him as he spoke.
Fumikazu Higuchi (ex-inspector in Kyoto prefectural police) said that the footage suggests inadequate security at the event, and was not sufficient for a former prime Minister.
Higuchi stated that Yamagami was allowed to move freely and follow Mr. Abe's lead.
Experts said that Abe was more vulnerable standing at ground level than atop a campaign car. This was reportedly because the plan for his Nara visit was not in place the previous day.
Yamagami, 41, is seen in videos that circulated on social media with his homemade gun hanging from the shoulder. He stands just a few yards behind Abe, looking around, and only a few metres (yards) away from Abe.
Just a few minutes after Abe had started his speech, a local candidate for the party and their supporters stood up and waved at the crowd. Yamagami fired the first shot. It released a cloud of smoke but apparently did not reach Abe.
Abe looked around to see what was causing the noise and a second shot rang. The bullet missed Abe's left arm and was not protected by the bulletproof briefcase that was raised by the security guard standing behind him.
Abe fell to his knees, his left arm folded in as if covering his chest. Campaign organizers yelled out to medical experts asking them to give first aid to Abe. His heart and breathing had stopped by then, and he was later declared dead at the hospital.
According to Asahi newspaper Yamagami worked as a contract worker in a Kyoto warehouse. He was a forklift operator and was known for being a quiet individual who didn't mix with his coworkers. Yamagami's neighbor next door said that he had never met him, but he did recall hearing sounds like a saw several times at night in the last month.
Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader, had a frosty relationship early on with Abe. He sent a condolence note to Fumio Kishida, the Japanese Prime Minister, on Saturday. This was a day after other leaders around the world issued statements.
According to a statement on China's Foreign Ministry website, Xi credited Abe for making efforts to improve China/Japan relations. He also stated that he and Abe had reached a significant understanding on how to build better ties. Kishida was also informed by Xi that he was willing to work alongside him in order to further develop cooperative and neighborly relations.
Although he was no longer in office, Abe was still a powerful figure in the Liberal Democratic Party's governing party and was its most influential faction leader. However, his ultra-nationalist views made him an unpopular figure.
Abe, who resigned from his post as prime minister, blamed the recurrence and severity of ulcerative colitis that he had suffered since he was a teenager. Abe said that it was hard to let many of his goals go unfulfilled, particularly his failure to resolve the Japanese abduction by North Korea years ago, a territorial dispute between Russia and a revision to Japan's war-renouncing Constitution.
This ultra-nationalist approach riled China and Koreas, and Abe's push to establish a normal defense posture angered many Japanese. Poor public support prevented Abe from achieving his beloved goal of officially rewriting the U.S.-drafted, pacifist constitution.
Loyalists claimed that his legacy was a stronger U.S.–Japan relationship, which was meant to strengthen Japan's defense capabilities. Abe, despite public opposition, forced his defense goals through parliament.
Abe was raised to follow the example of his grandfather, Nobusukekishi, who was also a former Prime Minister. His political rhetoric was often focused on Japan as a normal and beautiful nation, with a stronger military and a larger role in international affairs.
Japan is known for its strict gun laws. According to police, Japan has only 10 gun-related criminal instances last year. This resulted in one death and four other injuries. Eight of these cases were gang-related. Tokyo was free from gun-related injuries, deaths, or incidents in the same year. However, 61 guns were seized.
Abe was proud for his efforts to strengthen Japan's security alliance and to shepherd the first U.S. president to Hiroshima, which had been atom bombed. Abe also helped Tokyo win the right to host 2020 Olympics by promising that the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster would be "under control", when in fact it wasn't.
At 52 years old, he became Japan's youngest prime minster. However, his first stint as a nationalist was abruptly ended one year later due to his health.
Abe's scandal-filled first tenure as prime minister ended. This was the beginning six years of leadership changes, which are remembered as an era that saw "revolving door" politics and lacked stability.
Abe, who combined fiscal stimulus, monetary ease, and structural reforms, returned to power in 2012.
Six national elections were won by him, and he held a firm grip on power. This allowed Japan to strengthen its defense capabilities and security alliance with the U.S. He also increased Japan's international visibility and patriotic education in schools.