Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the longest-serving individual in that role in Japan’s history, was tragically assassinated Friday morning, according to the Associated Press.
The 67-year-old Abe, who stepped down as prime minister in 2020 for health reasons, was gunned down from behind by a suspect wielding a homemade improvised firearm while delivering a campaign speech in the western city of Nara in support of his political party ahead of parliamentary elections this weekend.
The suspect, identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, a Japanese Navy veteran described as holding a non-political grudge against Abe, was immediately taken into custody at the scene, and has been widely and harshly condemned by virtually all public officials in Japan, regardless of party affiliations.
Presidents Trump and Biden respond
Former Prime Minister Abe and former President Donald Trump were close allies during their concurrent tenures as leaders and personal friends even before Trump entered politics, and the former president issued a statement on his Truth Social platform in response to the terrible assassination and expressed his hope that the assassin would be “dealt with swiftly and harshly.”
“Few people will know what a great man and leader Shinzo Abe was, but history will teach them and be kind,” Trump wrote. “He was a unifier like no other, but above all, he was a man who loved and cherished his magnificent country, Japan. Shinzo Abe will be greatly missed. There will never be another like him!”
President Joe Biden also issued a statement with regard to the assassination of Abe, and said that he was “stunned, outraged, and deeply saddened” by the horrible news that he had been “shot and killed while campaigning.”
“He was a champion of the Alliance between our nations and the friendship between our people. The longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister, his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific will endure,” Biden said of Abe. “Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service. Even at the moment he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy.”
In a testament to the deep friendship between America and Japan that was bolstered during Abe’s years in leadership, President Biden also issued a proclamation ordering that all U.S. flags be flown at half-staff at all federal and public buildings and facilities at home and abroad as a sign of respect for the fallen leader.
Homemade firearm belies Japan’s strict gun control laws
As for the weapon used to assassinate Abe in Japan, a nation with arguably the strictest gun control laws of all nations and a minuscule number of annual firearms deaths, NBC News reported that Japanese authorities have confirmed that it was an improvised and homemade device.
Indeed, photos and videos of the incident revealed that the bulky weapon that, at a glance, resembled a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun, was actually just two metal pipes connected to a board of wood with black electrical tape.
The outlet further reported that Japanese police found several more homemade firearms during a raid on the home of the arrested suspect. It was not known at this point if the suspect had a license to own firearms, but that seems unlikely and, presumably, a license wouldn’t cover such homemade weapons either.
That said, and whether U.S. officials want to admit it or not, this horrific tragedy simply proves the futility of gun control, particularly in a nation like America — unlike Japan — with a long history of pro-gun sentiment, in that the components and instructions to build homemade or improvised firearms are exceedingly easy to obtain, are completely untraceable by the government, and will be readily used for good or evil by those with the desire to do so.