Japan mourns Shinzo Abe as police investigate fatal shooting

The body of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was brought back to his home in Tokyo on Saturday as the country mourned the death of the country’s longest-serving prime minister and most consequential modern leader. .

Abe, 67, was shot twice while giving a campaign speech in the city of Nara on Friday. His attacker has been detained by the police.

Crowds gathered on Saturday to lay flowers and pray at a makeshift memorial near the site of the shooting. A family funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, and a government memorial service will be held at a later date, according to an official at Prime Minister Abe’s office.

The incident shocked a country where political violence has been rare in recent decades and few people own guns. Abe Still an influential figure as the head of the largest faction of the ruling party after he resigned as prime minister.

“I don’t think I would be shocked if it was any other politician. But Mr. Abe holds influence not only in Japan but also abroad so I feel both shocked and saddened,” said Yuko Asano, a legal entity living in Tokyo.

People queue on Saturday to lay flowers at a makeshift memorial outside Yamato-Saidaiji station where former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot in Nara

Drop-off people outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara © Philip Fong / AFP / Getty Images

When Abe’s body was driven from Nara to Tokyo, about 375km away, Condolences from world leadersmany of them personally knew the former prime minister during his second term from 2012 to 2020.

In a message to JapanIncumbent Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping said he was “deeply saddened by [Abe]’suddenly passed away’, according to Chinese state media.

State broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying that he and Abe had “reached an important consensus” on the two countries’ relations. “I want to work with the prime minister [Fumio Kishida] Mr. Xi added.

People pray at a makeshift memorial near the scene where Shinzo Abe was shot dead

People pray at a makeshift memorial near the scene where Shinzo Abe was shot dead © Kyodo News / AP

Security officials deployed metal detectors on Saturday as Kishida delivered a speech in Yamanashi Prefecture on the final day of the election campaign. election to the upper house of Japan on Sunday.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party was expected to perform strongly in Sunday’s polls, but analysts said Kishida is likely to withdraw more sympathy votes because of Abe’s death. “We have to show that our democracy will not cause violence,” the prime minister said.

Earlier on the same day, he had a 10-minute phone call with US President Joe Biden, in which the leaders pledged to inherit the “will of former Prime Minister Abe” to strengthen the alliance but direction.

Japanese police continue to search for more information about the motive of the assassin Abe.

Local police said the suspect, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, claimed to have a grudge against “a specific group” with which he believes Abe has a close relationship, according to state broadcaster NHK. Police did not name the group.

Abe, a conservative nationalist, has connections to several religious organizations that support him politically.

Yamagami served in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force from 2002 to 2005.

Additional reporting by Arjun Neil Alim in Beijing

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