Tetsuya Yamagami, Shinzo Abe Shooting Suspect: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

tetsuya yamagami

Getty Tetsuya Yamagami

Tetsuya Yamagami (山上徹也) was named as the homemade gun-wielding suspect accused of fatally shooting former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a speech on July 8, 2022.

Abe has died from his injuries after more than 20 doctors spent four hours trying to save his life with multiple blood transfusions, NHK reported. The cause of death was blood loss as the wound “was deep enough to reach his heart,” according to Kyodo News.

The 41-year-old suspect was identified by local authorities, according to The Associated Press. He is from the Nara prefecture, where the assassination of the 67-year-old former leader of Japan occurred.

“Police arrested 41-year-old Yamagami Tetsuya in Nara City for allegedly attempting murder. They say they seized a gun at the site which the suspect was apparently holding,” NHK reported. He has been charged with murder, according to The New York Times.

The AP reported, “Police said Yamagami was responding calmly to questions and had admitted to attacking Abe, telling investigators he had plotted to kill him because he believed rumors about the former leader’s connection to a certain organization that police did not identify.”

Kyodo News reported that Abe was unconscious when he was flown by helicopter to a hospital.

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In some videos, the suspect could be seen. Later in this story, you can see videos of the moment Abe was shot. Be forewarned that they are disturbing.

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“Former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been sent to a hospital and appears to show no vital signs after reportedly being shot in the city of Nara in western Japan, according to a local fire department. An NHK reporter says she heard what sounded like two gunshots and saw Abe bleeding,” NHK reported. It was later reported that Abe had died.

“I am simply speechless over the news of Abe’s death,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Abe’s protégé, told reporters, according to Reuters.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Yamagami Is Accused of Firing 2 Shots at the Former Prime Minister

The Japanese site Asahi reported that at around 11:30 a.m. on July 8, 2022, in Japan, “a gunshot-like sound was heard twice in front of Kintetsu Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara City.”

According to Kyodo News, a reporter saw Yamagami, the suspect, “wearing a white mask, gray polo shirt and brown trousers, silently approach Abe.”

Abe, “who was giving a street speech in front of the station, collapsed and was transported by ambulance,” the site reported.

“A man who appears to have fired has been arrested. According to police officials, Mr. Abe is in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest.”

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The site further reported that “At least two shotgun-like shotguns were fired behind Mr. Abe. Something like a gun was confiscated at the scene. According to investigators, the man is Tetsuya Yamagami (41) from Nara City. The current offender was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.”

Asahi reported that the suspect shot twice, hitting Abe in the chest and causing him to go into “cardiopulmonary arrest.” However, Reuters later reported that Abe suffered “deep wounds to the heart and the right side of his neck.”

Abe was shot a few minutes after starting his speech, according to Asahi, which reported that the suspect was “standing behind” Abe, who collapsed with blood “flowing from his chest.”

“There was a loud bang and then smoke,” businessman Makoto Ichikawa, who was at the scene, told Reuters. “The first shot, no one knew what was going on, but after the second shot, what looked like special police tackled him.”

2. Yamagami Was a Former Officer in the Japanese Military

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According to several government officials, “Yamagami, who shot former Prime Minister Abe, is a former SDF officer,” reported the Japanese-language site FNN.  He was part of the maritime forces, Fox News reported.

What is the SDF? “Self-Defense Force, Japan’s military after World War II. In Article 9 of Japan’s postwar constitution, the Japanese renounced war and pledged never to maintain land, sea, or air forces,” explains Britannica.

Reuters also reported that Yamagami was part of SDF for three years “but now appeared to be unemployed.” According to Kyodo News, the suspect “was working at a manufacturer in the Kansai region covering Osaka, Nara and Kyoto from around the autumn of 2020, but he quit in May this year.”

Abe had pushed for Constitutional revision to ensure that “the presence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF)” was “specified in its Article 9.”

Britannica reported,

A conservative, Abe sought to strengthen ties with the United States and pursue a more assertive foreign policy. Abe supported United Nations sanctions against North Korea following that country’s nuclear test and imposed a set of unilateral sanctions on North Korea that included a ban on all visits to Japanese ports by North Korean vessels. He also pledged to revise the country’s postwar constitution, which placed severe restrictions on its military.

According to Kyodo News, “Abe was in the city to support an LDP candidate running in Sunday’s upper house election.”

3. Video Captured the Moment Abe Was Shot, Showing a Puff of Smoke

A video, which you can watch above, shows a puff of smoke behind Abe as he was shot. Here is another version of the video that is somewhat clearer but shows the same moment. According to Kyodo News, the weapon made a sound like “an explosion,” and a gunpowder-like smell lingered in the air.

Kyodo News reported that Abe “was shot in the left side of his upper torso.”

More video emerged from the scene.

Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister before leaving office in 2020, the Guardian reported.

Nick Kapur, a Japanese historian, tweeted, “BREAKING: Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was shot in the chest with a gun during a speech and collapsed. He was rushed to a hospital and it is unclear if he is still alive. Police are saying he was shot from behind with a shotgun, as per the chyron on this television news report.”

He also shared an image of the attacker, tweeting, “This seems to be a still image of the attacker, a middle aged man, aiming his shotgun at Abe, who is now in custody. Two shots were fired. The first seemed to miss. The man did not flee; he just squatted down and waited to be arrested, as per NHK.”

4. Yamagami Was Carrying a Handmade Shotgun & Was Upset About a ‘Certain Organization,’ Reports Say

According to NBC News, the suspect used an “improvised” gun consisting of “two metal barrels attached to a wooden board and is more than a foot long.”

According to NBC, Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and gun violence is rare there.

NHK reported that Yamagami “told investigators he had a grudge against a certain organization, and believed Abe had a connection with the group.” The news site did not name the group. Police found homemade guns in the suspect’s home, the broadcaster reported. According to Reuters, police are not sure the group actually exists, and they say Yamagami’s “grudge” had nothing to do with politics.

“It’s not a grudge against the political beliefs of former Prime Minister Abe,” the Nara prefectural police quoted Yamagami as saying, according to Kyodo News.

According to the Japan Times, he was attacked by a man from behind.

Abe was in cardiac arrest, according to Kyodo News.

Daily Mail reported that Abe, 67, was giving a speech when he was attacked. He was rushed to a hospital, according to Daily Mail.

Bloomberg reported that the shooting occurred on the street around 11:30 a.m. on Friday in Japan.

5. Abe Was Japan’s Prime Minister Twice

According to Britannica, Shinzo Abe, who was born in Tokyo in 1954, was twice Japanese prime minister, from 2006-07 and 2012-20.

“Abe was a member of a prominent political family. His grandfather Kishi Nobusuke served as Japan’s prime minister from 1957 to 1960, and his great-uncle Sato Eisaku held the same post from 1964 to 1972,” the biography states.

The suspect “appeared to be a young or middle-aged man,” Bloomberg reported.

According to NHK, “Abe was transferred by medevac to Nara Medical University Hospital in Kashihara City in the prefecture. Police say Abe appears to have been shot from behind.” He was bleeding.

“Abe was campaigning for a Liberal Democratic Party candidate before the Upper House election scheduled on Sunday,” NHK continued.

READ NEXT: Video Shows the Moment Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Was Shot