Japan’s ex-prime minister Shinzo Abe’s funeral, vigil scheduled

World

TOKYO (NewsNation) — With flags at half-mast, Japan mourned the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday.

Three days after the 67-year-old was gunned down at an election rally, Abe’s body was taken to Zojoji Temple in Tokyo for a wake, to be held on Monday evening, with a private funeral scheduled for Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a brief stopover on Monday to offer condolences on behalf of President Joe Biden.

“I shared with our Japanese colleagues the sense of loss, the sense of shock that we all feel – connected people feel – at this horrific tragedy,” said Blinken. “But mostly, I came at the president’s behest because more than allies, we’re friends. And when a friend is hurting, other friends show up.”

As authorities raised questions about security after the killing of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, who resigned in 2020, the Japanese head of the Unification Church said the suspect’s mother had been one of its followers.

Tetsuya Yamagami, an unemployed 41-year-old, was identified by police as the man who approached Abe and opened fire during a campaign speech in the western Japan city of Nara. The attack, captured on video, shocked a nation where gun violence is rare.

Yamagami believed Abe had promoted a religious group to which his mother made a “huge donation,” the Kyodo news agency has said, citing investigative sources. Yamagami told police his mother went bankrupt from the donation, the Yomiuri newspaper and other media have reported.

The suspect’s mother was a member of the Unification Church, but Yamagami himself was not a member, said Tomihiro Tanaka, president of the Japan branch of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, known as the Unification Church.

Monday morning, Japanese officials admitted they expect to find and investigate lapses in security that led to abe’s death. Police say they only learned Abe was visiting a day before the campaign event and signed off on a security plan with no concerns.

The homemade weapon Yamagami used Friday barely resembles a gun; it’s wrapped in black tape, with a handle, and two short barrels. A raid at the suspect’s home turned up several other weapons just like it.

State news outlets report that the suspect first planned to use explosives to kill Abe before researching how to make his own guns, testing them days before.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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