Investigators work at the scene of the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in Nara, Japan. (Reuters photo)

TOKYO: Japanese police said on Wednesday they found what they believe were multiple bullet holes on a building near the site of the former prime minister The Assassination of Shinzo Abe last week in western Japan, apparently since the first shot was fired from a suspect’s powerful homemade pistol that narrowly missed Abe.
Abe, the country’s longest-serving prime minister who remained influential even after stepping down two years ago for health reasons, was shot dead during a campaign speech near a crowded train station in Nara on Friday.
A bullet from a second shot, fired seconds after the first from behind Abe, fatally struck him as he turned, apparently in reaction to the initial explosive sound.
The suspect, Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, was arrested at the scene on Friday. He can be held for police investigation for up to three weeks before prosecutors decide whether to formally charge him with murder.
On Wednesday, police found several of what they believe to be bullet marks in the wall of a building about 90 meters (yards) from the scene of the slaying. Police said they believe bullets, or bullet fragments, from the first shot hit the wall after they narrowly missed Abe and pierced a parked election vehicle nearby. The bullet marks on the wall and in the vehicle match, police said, suggesting they were fired from the same weapon.
Police confiscated the homemade weapon the suspect used to kill Abe upon his arrest. The 40-centimeter (16-inch) double-barreled gun made of two iron pipes was designed to fire multiple bullets per shot, police said. Police also confiscated several other similar weapons from the suspect’s apartment.
Japanese police and media have suggested the alleged killer decided to kill Abe after seeing reports of his ties to the Unification Church. The suspect was reportedly upset because his mother’s massive donations to the church had bankrupted the family.
The Abe’s assassination shed light on his and his ruling party’s ties to the Unification Church, known for its conservative, anti-communist stances and mass marriages.
Tomihiro Tanaka, head of the Japanese branch of the South Korean church, confirmed on Monday that Yamagami’s mother was a member. Tanaka said Abe was not a member but may have spoken to church-affiliated groups.
This week, police inspected a building linked to the Nara church after the suspect told investigators he tested a homemade pistol the day before the assassination to determine its potency. They found several holes in the wall of an unrelated office next door, which the suspect might have believed to be part of the church, police said.
Abe’s Assassination rocked Japan, one of the safest countries in the world with some of the strictest gun laws. Police acknowledged possible lapses in Abe’s custody and announced plans to set up a task force to review security procedures.
Hundreds of people, some in formal dark suits, filled the sidewalks outside Zojoji Temple in downtown Tokyo to bid farewell to Abe, whose nationalist views drove the ruling party’s conservative policies.


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