Assassination of Shinzo Abe

Deaths 1 (Shinzo Abe)
Born 1980/1981
Died Unknown
Date 8 July 2022 (2022-07-08) c. 11:30 JST (UTC+9:00)
Criminal penalty Unknown


On 8 July 2022, Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan and serving member of the House of Representatives, was assassinated while speaking at a political event outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara, Nara Prefecture, Japan. At approximately 11:30 a.m. JST (UTC+9), while delivering a campaign speech for a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate, Abe was shot from behind at close range by a man with a homemade firearm. He was transported by medical helicopter to Nara Medical University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:03 p.m.

The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, was arrested for attempted murder at the scene, later upgraded to murder after Abe's death. Yamagami told investigators that he held a grudge against the Unification Church over his mother's bankruptcy and shot Abe because he believed Abe was close to the group. The suspect accused Abe of spreading the Church's influence in Japan.

Leaders from many countries praised Abe's accomplishments while expressing shock and sadness at his death. His assassination was the first of a former Japanese prime minister since Saitō Makoto and Takahashi Korekiyo during the February 26 Incident in 1936.



Shinzo Abe was initially scheduled to deliver a speech in Nagano Prefecture on 8 July 2022 in support of Sanshirō Matsuyama [ja], a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidate in the upcoming elections to the House of Councillors. That event was abruptly canceled on 7 July following allegations of misconduct and corruption related to Matsuyama, and was replaced by a similar event in Nara Prefecture at which Abe was to deliver a speech in support of Kei Satō, an LDP councillor running for re-election. The LDP division in Nara Prefecture stated this schedule was not generally publicly known, but NHK reported that this event had been widely advertised on Twitter and by sound truck.

On 8 July 2022, at approximately 11:10 a.m., Satō began speaking at a road junction near the north exit of Yamato-Saidaiji Station in Nara City. Abe arrived nine minutes later, and began his speech at around 11:29 a.m. Members of the public listened from surrounding sidewalks.


Exterior of Yamato-Saidaiji Station
Yamato-Saidaiji Station, pictured in 2020

While Abe was delivering his speech outside Yamato-Saidaiji Station, the alleged perpetrator was able to approach within several metres, despite the presence of security. At around 11:30 a.m., Abe was shot twice from behind with a homemade gun resembling a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun, and collapsed. The pellet projectiles struck Abe's heart. Abe's security detained the suspect, who did not resist.

Abe was initially conscious and communicative after being shot. Shortly thereafter, he was transported to a local hospital by emergency helicopter with a wound to the right side of his neck and internal bleeding under his left chest. He was reported to have no vital signs when he arrived at Nara Medical University Hospital in Kashihara, likely due to cardiopulmonary arrest prior to his arrival. At 2:45 p.m., a press conference was held by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who stated that Abe was in critical condition and that "doctors [were] doing everything they [could]".

Abe was pronounced dead at the hospital at 5:03 p.m., around five and a half hours after being shot. He was sixty-seven years old. Hidetada Fukushima, a doctor at the hospital, said the cause of Abe's death was blood loss, despite four hours of blood transfusions that saw the administration of 100 units of blood.

Abe was the first former Japanese prime minister to have been assassinated since Saitō Makoto and Takahashi Korekiyo, who were killed during the February 26 Incident in 1936, the first Japanese legislator to be assassinated since Kōki Ishii was killed by a member of a right-wing group in 2002, and the first Japanese politician to be assassinated during an electoral campaign since Iccho Itoh, then-mayor of Nagasaki, who was shot dead during his mayoral race in April 2007.


A crisis-management center was established at the prime minister's office. Kishida, who was campaigning in Sagae, Yamagata Prefecture, canceled his remaining schedule and returned to the prime minister's office in Tokyo by 2:29 p.m. According to Hirokazu Matsuno, Chief Cabinet Secretary, all other members of Kishida's cabinet were recalled to Tokyo except Yoshimasa Hayashi, Foreign Affairs Minister, who was in Indonesia for the 2022 G20 Bali summit.

NHK General TV, and four out of five major Japanese commercial TV networks, canceled or postponed all scheduled programs to broadcast live news coverage for the rest of the day. The anime series Teppen—!!! had its second episode canceled due to including an assassination plot.

Most political leaders canceled all campaign events on 8 July after the attack. Campaigning resumed the day after, on 9 July, with major party leaders vowing to not allow violence to disrupt the democratic process.

Following the shooting, Prime Minister Kishida ordered heightened security for cabinet ministers and top politicians in Japan.


At about 9:00 p.m. on the day, former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visited the hospital, and after him, Matsuno also visited the hospital.

Abe's body was subject to a judicial autopsy, and departed from the hospital with his widow Akie Abe at 5:55 a.m. on 9 July. Five related cars accompanied the car carrying the body, Tomomi Inada, former Minister of Defense rode in one of them. At 1:35 p.m., they arrived at Abe's house in Tokyo. On their arrival, Sanae Takaichi, the chairman of the LDP Policy Research Council, Tatsuo Fukuda [ja], the chairman of the LDP General Council and Hisashi Hieda, the chairman of Fujisankei Communications Group, who had a friendship with Abe, received them. Afterward, Kishida visited for condolences, and former Prime Ministers Yoshirō Mori and Junichiro Koizumi, Hiroyuki Hosoda (Speaker of the House of Representatives), Akiko Santō (President of the House of Councillors), Toshihiro Nikai (former Secretary-General of the LDP), Kōichi Hagiuda (Abe's close aide and the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry), Tetsuo Saito (a politician of Komeito and the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism), and Yuriko Koike (the Governor of Tokyo) also visited for condolences.


Tetsuya Yamagami
Capture status
Military career
Service/branchJapan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Years of service2002–2005
RankLeading seaman

Tetsuya Yamagami (Japanese: 山上徹也), a forty-one-year-old man living in Nara City, was arrested by Nara Prefectural Police at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder and was transferred to the Nara Nishi Police Station. He was described as being calm and having made no attempts to flee. Yamagami had no prior criminal history.

Yamagami was born in Mie Prefecture. Described as quiet and reserved in high school, he wrote in his graduation yearbook that he "didn't have a clue" what he wanted to do in the future. Yamagami joined the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in August 2002; he was posted to Kure Naval Base and assigned to the destroyer JS Matsuyuki. He was discharged from the JMSDF in August 2005 as a quartermaster with the rank of leading seaman. During his service, Yamagami had firearms training once every year.

In October 2020, Yamagami had started working as a forklift operator in Kyoto Prefecture for a manufacturer that operated in the Kansai region. There he was described as quiet. He quit in May 2022 after claiming that he was "feeling unwell". Yamagami was unemployed at the time of his arrest.

Yamagami told investigators that his motive had been personal rather than political. His mother had become bankrupt after making large donations to the Unification Church, a South Korea-based new religious movement of which she had been a member, which led to him holding a grudge against the group. The Unification Church has historical ties to Abe's father and grandfather, and Abe himself had previously delivered a speech praising the group. Yamagami researched these connections in the months before the attack, faulting Abe with spreading the church's influence in Japan.

Yamagami stated that his initial plan was to assassinate a high-ranking official of the Unification Church, but later decided to target Abe instead. He stalked Abe in various locations, including a campaign rally in Okayama Prefecture the day before the assassination, and kept track of Abe's schedule during his visit to Nara City via Abe's website. He also claimed that he was planning an attack for several months and had built the weapon used in the shooting.

Police discovered several possible explosive devices and handmade guns similar to the one used to shoot Abe during a search of Yamagami's home following his arrest. They were later seized as evidence and taken by bomb disposal officers after nearby residents were evacuated. Websites about bomb-making and weapons manufacturing were discovered in Yamagami's browsing history.


In the wake of the assassination, several media outlets misidentified video game developer Hideo Kojima as the assassin. The misreporting allegedly stemmed from jokes on online message board 4chan and Twitter that were taken as fact and subsequently published by far-right French politician Damien Rieu, Greek news outlet ANT1, and Iranian website Mashregh News. ANT1 additionally reported that the suspect was "passionate about Che Guevara," referring to the Cuban guerrilla leader. ANT1's broadcast was initially uploaded to their YouTube account and was later taken down by the broadcaster. Rieu took down the original tweet and issued an apology for their comments. Following the incident, Kojima's company, Kojima Productions, condemned the false reports and threatened legal action against those perpetrating the rumor.

Copycat threats

Thirty minutes after the shot, there was a threatening call warning the attack to Matsuyama's office, who Abe was initially scheduled to deliver a speech.

Hours after the shooting, online assassination threats were made in Singapore and the Republic of China (Taiwan) against their respective leaders, prime minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong and Republic of China president Tsai Ing-wen. In Singapore, a 45-year-old man was arrested at his home by the Central Police Division after a report was made about his comments against Lee on the CNA's Facebook page that had posted about Abe's shooting. In Taiwan, the threat came from a 22-year-old man in Tainan. He was arrested at his home in Yongkang District, brought to the local police station, and later transferred to the Tainan District Prosecutors Office.



A hospital
Nara Medical University Hospital, where Abe was pronounced dead

Incumbent prime minister Fumio Kishida called the assassination an "unforgivable act" and an "act of cowardly barbarism". Noting that Abe was shot while delivering a campaign speech, Kishida also denounced the assassination as an attack on Japan's democracy and vowed to defend a "free and fair election at all costs".

Before Abe's death was announced, Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, stated that "no matter the reason, such a heinous act is absolutely unforgivable. It is an affront against democracy." Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party, called the assassination "barbaric" and called it an attack on free speech and an act of terrorism in a post to Twitter. Tomohiko Taniguchi, a former advisor to Abe, likened his death to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in terms of likely social impact in Japan.

Tomoaki Onizuka, head of Nara Prefecture Police, acknowledged security lapses at the political rally where Abe was killed, and pledged to identify and resolve the flaws, “It is undeniable that there were problems with the security for former prime minister Abe, and we will immediately identify the problems and take appropriate measures to resolve them”.


In response to the shooting and Abe's subsequent death, representatives of numerous countries, including present and former world leaders, expressed their condolences.

Individuals and non-governmental organizations

  • Former U.S. presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama both condemned Abe's assassination, with Trump in particular making two statements on Truth Social elaborating on the deep friendship the two leaders had during their tenure. Trump's family and political allies followed suit.
  • The University of Southern California (USC) paid special condolences to Abe, who attended the university for three semesters studying English and Public Policy during a study abroad program. USC's president Carol Folt personally sent her own condolences.
  • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) president, Thomas Bach, recognized Abe for being instrumental in securing the 2020 Summer Olympics for Tokyo before his tenure ended in 2020 as well as his "vision, determination and dependability" that enabled the IOC to make an unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympics by a year. The Olympic flag will be flown in Lausanne at half-mast for three days.[third-party source needed]
  • Despite official condolences sent by the Chinese and South Korean governments, many Chinese and South Korean netizens were largely unsympathetic to Abe's death. This stemmed from grievances concerning historical colonialism and war crimes by Imperial Japan, and towards right-wing Japanese politicians – including Abe – who questioned, downplayed or denied such atrocities.