Shinzo Abe’s body has been brought back to the Japanese capital after the former prime minister was assassinated during a campaign speech.

Mr. Abe, 67, was shot twice from behind while speaking at a campaign rally in the city of Nara – the first assassination of a former Japanese prime minister since the 1930s.

He suffered two deep neck wounds which damaged an artery and died five and a half hours after the late morning attack.

Mr Abe suffered two neck injuries and died hours after the attack

Police say Yamagami Tetsuya, 41, who was tackled and arrested moments after the incident, admitted shooting Mr Abe with a homemade weapon.

The suspect said he was angry with a “specific organization” and believed Mr Abe was part of it, police said.

However, the grudge was not about politics and it was unclear whether the anonymous organization actually existed, officers added.

Tetsuya is said to have been an unemployed factory worker who had also been a member of the Japan Maritime Defense Force.

A man believed to be the suspect is being held by police.  Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters
A man believed to be the suspect is being held by police. Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun via Reuters
PLD officials pray for the vehicle believed to carry the body of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Officials pray for vehicle believed to carry former Japanese prime minister’s body

On Saturday, a steady stream of mourners visited the scene in Nara as a motorcade believed to carry Mr Abe’s body left the hospital.

The motorcade, also carrying Mr Abe’s wife, Akie, left Kashihara Hospital in Nara Prefecture just before 6 a.m., with local media reporting it was heading for his residence in Tokyo .

People pray in front of a makeshift memorial near the scene where former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot dead.  Photo: AP
Photo: AP

A night vigil will be held on Monday, with Mr Abe’s funeral due to take place on Tuesday, with close friends in attendance, Japanese media said.

There was no immediate word on plans for a public memorial service.

Chinese President Xi Jinping became the latest in a long line of world leaders to send a message of condolence on Saturday following Mr Abe’s death.

Tributes were also paid by the leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, South Korea, Brazil, Israel, Canada, France, Australia, Ukraine, Russia and New Zealand, among others.

Meanwhile, campaigning resumed on the last day of the election campaign before voting for the upper house of parliament.

The election is expected to give victory to the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, with the Liberal Democratic Party, where Mr Abe has retained considerable influence, expected to gain seats.

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