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Japan devastated by Abe assassination

#Japan #devastated #Abe #assassination

A day after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a steady stream of mourners, many in tears, descended on the scene of his assassination in western Japan to offer flowers and prayers.

People from all walks of life formed a long line on Saturday on the otherwise ordinary street outside a train station where Abe was shot dead while campaigning ahead of the weekend’s elections.

The afternoon downpours did not deter crowds who came to offer their condolences, some of whom had traveled great distances, such as 51-year-old Yoshikazu Tokudome, who flew hundreds of kilometers from the Tokyo area to the city of Nara.

“I’m just in pain and thought the least I could do was come here and put some flowers,” the company employee told AFP.

Upon hearing of the death of Abe, Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, “I could understand what was being said on the news, but I just couldn’t accept it.”

Visitors like Tokudome bowed deeply with their eyes closed, some weeping as they laid flowers on a table in a tent set up near Yamato-Saidaiji Station.

Events on Friday moved quickly, with Abe speaking confidently into a microphone before being gunned down and the suspect immediately pinned to the ground.

“It’s just shocking and I’m so sad. I felt really uneasy at home,” said Sumiko Hayashi, 50.

“I also really liked him as a person,” she said, especially “how he looked so happy with his wife.”

– ‘Security was lax’ –

As bouquet after bouquet was piled onto the table, it became a makeshift altar, adorned with framed photos and cartoon illustrations of a smiling Abe, who was forced to leave office in 2020 due to ill health.

Canned beer and other beverages were also placed on the table for the politician to enjoy afterlife, but the prevailing mood was somber.

52-year-old Kayoko Ueda, from the neighboring Osaka region, wiped away tears and told AFP she was “distraught” and “couldn’t believe something like this could actually happen in Japan”.

Violent crime is very rare in the country, which also has some of the toughest gun laws in the world.

The suspect was identified as 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, whose footage showed him approaching Abe from behind and then opening fire with what appeared to be a hand-made weapon.

The killing has prompted a review of whether security measures at the stump speech were adequate, and some mourners told AFP more could have been done.

“Security was lax. I think it showed how complacent Japan was when they thought everything was safe here,” Ueda said.

Akira Takahashi, a 54-year-old Osaka resident, agreed.

“High-ranking overseas officials, such as prime ministers and cabinet members, often visit Japan on the assumption that it is a safe country,” he said.

“But I think security should be strengthened much more in the future.”

With tears in his eyes, Takahashi, who always thought highly of Abe as he laid flowers, said, “I told him, ‘Thank you for everything and please rest in peace’.”

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#Japan #devastated #Abe #assassination

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