What type of gun was used in the assassination of Shinzo Abe? Officials recover multiple handmade weapons from suspect's home

Former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe was assassinated on Friday during a campaign in western Japan (Image via Getty Images)
Former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe was assassinated on Friday during a campaign in western Japan (Image via Getty Images)

On Friday, July 8, 2022, former prime minister of Japan Shinzo Abe was fatally shot when giving a speech at a political event in the Nara prefecture in western Japan. He eventually succumbed to his injuries and died. The assassination has left Japan, a nation with some of the strictest gun laws in the world, extremely disturbed.

The suspected shooter, 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, was swiftly tackled by the security present, but they had already shot the famous political figure twice in the neck and heart by then.

The weapon used by the suspect was recovered from the scene of the crime itself. According to local reports, it is a handmade gun assembled out of basic supplies such as metal pipes. Officers later stated that they found several handmade weapons at the home of the suspect.


What is a handmade gun? Shinzo Abe's assassination raises questions in a nation ruled by strict laws

Shinzo Abe, who stepped down from the position of prime minister in 2020 due to health concerns, was delivering a speech in favor of incumbent parliamentary member Kei Sato at a campaign rally ahead of Japan's upcoming election when he was brutally assassinated in broad daylight.

A former detective from the Metropolitan Police Department's firearms control division told The Daily Beast that the firearm used to kill Shinzo Abe was not a standard one.

"The box-like device is wrapped in black tape and smoke can be seen coming from the muzzle. It’s certainly no standard shotgun."

In pictures made public by various local reporters, the double-barrelled firearm seems to be made out of metal pipes duct taped together and attached to a wooden body.

A police officer further stated:

"That's the suspect's assertion, and we have determined that (the gun) is clearly handmade in appearance, although our analysis is currently ongoing."

It is not easy to own a firearm legally in a nation like Japan where gun laws are very strict. Handguns are banned in Japan. Hunters can legally own shotguns only upon attending several classes, passing a written test, getting a doctor to state they are mentally fit, and having a clean record of criminal history. That is not all. Potential owners are then questioned by the police, and in-depth background checks are conducted before a gun permit is issued.

The weapon used to open fire on Shinzo Abe was not a factory-manufactured shotgun. These handmade guns, while basic in their make, can prove to be lethal when shot in close proximity. Colloquially known as zip guns, such improvised firearms are made with nails, steel pipes, and wood. Homemade guns allow shooters to bypass the need for a license, so they remain a threat in countries like Japan where gun violence rates are lower than most other countries.


The 41-year-old unemployed Yamagami, who reportedly served in the country's navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, for three years, has admitted to holding a grudge against the former prime minister for his alleged associations with a certain organization. The Nara resident had 'intended' to kill Abe, NHK reports.

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Edited by Mohini Banerjee