“In Japan, this type of shooting is extremely rare, which conversely, is why it was easy to execute,” said William Cleary, a criminal law professor at Hiroshima Shudo University. He said he canceled a class Friday after walking in and seeing the “absolutely grim” faces of his students. “Security was obviously too loose and this will prompt a tightening up of security, especially at open-air speeches given we’re in the middle of elections.”
In 1932, Prime Minister Tsuyoshi Inukai was killed in office by Navy staff plotting to provoke war with the US (they also originally sought to kill Charlie Chaplin, who was visiting Japan at the time). The last time a Japanese politician was shot and murdered was in 2007, when the mayor of the southern city of Nagasaki was targeted outside a station.
Abe’s maternal grandfather and former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi was also the target of an assassination attempt. In 1960, Kishi was attacked and stabbed during his final days in office by a man affiliated with right-wing groups. He survived.
Although best known for “Abenomics,” a plan to revive Japan’s economy through unprecedented monetary easing and regulatory reform, the country’s longest-serving prime minister also sought to boost defense spending and revise the pacifist constitution, seen as controversial steps within and outside Japan.
There’s another parallel between the two attacks on prime ministers, separated by almost a century. Yamagami, suspected of firing upon Abe on Friday, was a former Maritime Self-Defense Force member, according to local broadcaster FNN.
“This comes as a grave shock,” said Hiromichi Watanabe, a senior LDP member speaking at the party’s headquarters. “I can’t believe something like this could happen in Japan.”