Yamagami ‘caused problems’ at work

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Tetsuya Yamagami is seen in Nara City on Friday.

The suspect in the fatal attack on former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had quit a job in May at a factory in Kyoto Prefecture after repeatedly causing problems, sources said.

Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old former member of the Maritime Self-Defense Force, was arrested Friday for attempted murder for shooting Abe during a speech in Nara City. Police seized several weapons, including a handmade gun, found at his apartment. Several residents said that they had heard suspicious metallic sounds coming from his place.

“He did cause some problems, but I never would have imagined he would cause such an incident,” a man in charge of the factory where Yamagami used to work told reporters in the city Saturday.

According to the man’s explanation, Yamagami worked at the factory as a temp from October 2020 until May 15 this year. He commuted to the location by car from the city and worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., moving goods in a warehouse with a forklift truck.

Initially, Yamagami reportedly did his job well and was highly regarded.

Around the spring of 2021, however, he is said to have begun talking back to his seniors when told to work as instructed, saying such things as, “If you’re going to talk like that, you should do it yourself.”

Yamagami is also said to have started arguing with truck drivers from other companies over how to carry cargo. He rarely spoke with his coworkers and often ate lunch alone in his car.

From March of this year, he often took time off as well as unexcused absences.

In April, he said he wanted to quit as he was “not feeling well,” and he then took leave, before finally quitting on May 15. He reportedly said he had not decided what he would do next for work.

He graduated from a prefectural high school, one of high-ranked schools in Nara Prefecture. Regarding his future, he wrote, “I don’t know” in his graduation photo album.

One of his former classmates said that Yamagami was a good-natured and kind-hearted person, and that it was hard to believe he really caused the attack.

After graduating from high school in 1999, Yamagami served in the Maritime Self-Defense Force from 2002 to 2005. He is believed to have received gun training at that time.

Over 10 years ago, he lived with his mother, an elder brother and a younger sister in a rented house in Nara City. According to a landlord, they sometimes failed to pay rent for months at a time. “They appeared to be in financial difficulties,” the landlord said. By that time, Yamagami’s father is believed to have had passed away.

At the time of the incident, Yamagami was living alone in an apartment in the city, about three kilometers from the scene of the attack, and had no interaction with neighbors.

Several neighboring residents said about a month ago they started to hear the sounds of what seemed to be a saw cutting something and the sound of metal from the suspect’s room.

A resident who had passed by him a few days before the incident, said, “He looked as if he was deep in thought and blind to his surroundings. I felt that he might be troubled in some way.”

On the day of the attack, Yamagami traveled by train from Kintetsu Railway Co.’s Shin-Omiya Station near his home to Yamato-Saidaiji Station near the crime scene. He is believed to have ridden on the train with a homemade gun.