Sources: Suspect planned to follow Abe on campaign stop after Nara

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People offer prayers Tuesday near the site where former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was fatally shot in Nara on Friday.

NARA — The man suspected of fatally shooting former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told investigators he had considered traveling to Saitama on Friday evening as Abe had been scheduled to give a stump speech in the city after the campaign stop in Nara, according to sources.

The day before the fatal attack on Friday, suspect Tetsuya Yamagami took a bullet train to Okayama City, where Abe had attended a House of Councillors election campaign event, Yamagami told the police.

Yamagami, 41, apparently had a homemade gun at the venue in Okayama where Abe was supporting a Liberal Democratic Party candidate, but he told police he was not able to get close to the former prime minister.

About 2,300 people attended the event, and visitors had to register at the entrance.

The Nara campaign stop was added to Abe’s schedule on Thursday evening. Yamagami told the police he learned about the trip online.

It has been confirmed that the suspect passed through a ticket gate at Shin-Omiya Station in Nara — the station nearest to his home — before 10 a.m. on Friday and arrived at Yamato-Saidaiji Station a few minutes later, after which he walked around the area for about 1½ hours.

Yamagami shot Abe at around 11:30 a.m., about two minutes into the former prime minister’s speech, and was arrested at the scene.

An LDP candidate had been scheduled to give a stump speech in Saitama at 6:30 p.m. on Friday. According to an LDP source, Abe had been scheduled to join them on a campaign van in front of JR Omiya Station and the former prime minister’s visit had been publicized on social media on July 5.

Yamagami told police he was “determined to kill” Abe and had been stalking him on the campaign trail. He said he finished making the improvised weapon in spring.

The Nara prefectural police believe Yamagami had been waiting for an opportunity to commit the crime during campaigning for the upper house election when many stump speeches were being held in public places.