Japan GSDF Shooting Suspect Loaded Live Ammo Without Permission

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People offer flowers in front of the firing range in Gifu on Thursday.

The Ground Self-Defense Force cadet suspected of fatally shooting two GSDF members and wounding another at a firing range in Gifu shot one of the victims after being told not to load a magazine outside the designated area, investigative sources said.

The GSDF on Thursday named the deceased as Master Sgt. Yasuchika Kikumatsu, 52, and Sgt. Kosuke Yashiro, 25. The injured person was identified as Sgt. Yusuke Hara, 25. All three belonged to the 35th Infantry Regiment and were serving as instructors during the target practice session.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ground Self-Defense Force personnel gather at the GSDF Hino basic firing range in Gifu on Wednesday.

According to the GSDF, to prevent accidental discharges during such sessions, personnel are supposed to load magazines after entering the designated firing position in turn. According to investigators, however, the 18-year-old cadet started loading his rifle with live ammunition while waiting for another cadet to finish shooting.

When Yashiro saw this and instructed the cadet not to move, the teen suddenly opened fired at the sergeant. He then shot Kikumatsu and Hara. Kikumatsu was hit twice, while Yashiro and Hara were each hit once.

The cadet explained to the Gifu prefectural police that he was aiming at Kikumatsu.

None of those shot were in a position to have daily contact with the cadet, and the police and the SDF police are investigating the circumstances behind the incident.