Shinzo Abe, former Japanese leader, dies after being shot

Tokyo has two very important statistics to it’s name.  Firstly, Tokyo is the largest city in the world. Secondly, it is the safest city in the world to live in.  Two statistics that make the shooting of Shinzo Abe the more shocking.

1). How easy is it to own a gun in Japan?  Japan has close to zero tolerance of gun ownership and one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the world, making the attack on Shinzo Abe a particularly extraordinary act of violence.

2). Does Tokyo have a high crime rate?   It’s a well-established fact that Japan has one of the lowest overall crime rates in the world. Tokyo is no exception to that rule. When it comes to violent crimes, Tokyo is perhaps the safest of all the large metropolitan cities.

3). Is Tokyo a large city? Tokyo is one of the largest, most densely populated cities in the world. As of December 2021, it was estimated that the metropolitan area of Tokyo had 14 million residents with over 6,400 persons per square kilometer, that’s a lot of people living in a relatively small area. One would think that it might not be the safest place to live, but the truth is, Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world to live.


A 1958 postwar law on the possession of swords and firearms states: “No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords.”

Former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, a towering political figure at home and abroad, died after being shot at a campaign event Friday, public broadcaster NHK said, shocking a nation where firearms laws are among the world’s strictest and gun violence is rare.

Abe, 67, was stumping for a fellow politician from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Nara, near Osaka, on Friday morning when a gunman with an apparently homemade weapon fired two shots. Abe sustained injuries to his neck and chest, police sources told Japanese media, and was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

The assassination of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister sent shockwaves throughout the country ahead of elections for the upper house of parliament on Sunday.

Police arrested a suspect, a man from Nara in his 40s named Tetsuya Yamagami, and seized a gun. The weapon appeared to be homemade, police sources told local media. Yamagami was a member of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces for three years, defense officials told Japanese media.

Footage of the event showed Abe giving a speech, then a plume of smoke forming behind him as he collapsed. Officials ran to apprehend the shooter, who appeared to be positioned behind Abe. Videos showed a chaotic scene with Abe, unmoving, lying on the ground as attendees yelled for an ambulance.

Although he resigned as prime minister in 2020, Abe remained popular and influential and was a staple on the campaign trail, drawing audiences and attention across the nation to support candidates of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

At an emotional news conference Friday, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida declined to describe the motive of the shooter, saying there was not enough information to share.

“This is a despicable and barbaric act that occurred in the midst of an election, which is the foundation of democracy, and absolutely cannot be tolerated. We condemn it in the harshest possible terms,” said Kishida, who appeared close to tears.

No decision had been made about whether to change the election date, Kishida said. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said cabinet members campaigning for this weekend’s polls have been asked to return to Tokyo.

Japanese media reported that the suspect had told police that he was frustrated with Abe and aimed at the former conservative leader with the intent to kill him.

Abe oversaw a period of relative stability as prime minister from 2012 to 2020, raising Japan’s global image and emphasizing a strong alliance with the United States, even as former US president Donald Trump tested long-standing relationships with allies.

Abe focused on reviving Japan’s stagnating economy through a package dubbed “Abenomics,” and sought to expand Japan’s military defenses. Controversially, he tried to modify the country’s pacifist postwar constitution and continued to push for Japan to increase its defensive capabilities, most recently suggesting Japan should discuss a nuclear “sharing” program similar to NATO members after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier, he led the country from 2006 to 2007 but stepped down because of chronic ulcerative colitis, the same condition that led to his resignation in 2020.

Foreign leaders expressed sympathies as they reacted with horror to the events in Nara.

In a statement, the White House said it was “shocked and saddened to hear about the violent attack” on Abe. “We are closely monitoring the reports and keeping our thoughts with his family and the people of Japan,” it said.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Abe was “not only my good friend, but also Taiwan’s most staunch friend.” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “utterly appalled and saddened.” Indian leader Narendra Modi said he was “deeply distressed.”

The last time a Japanese politician was similarly attacked like Abe was in 1992, when LDP member and deputy prime minister Shin Kanemaru was attacked by a gunman, but was not injured.

Kishida, who was campaigning in Yamagata when the shooting occurred, canceled his campaign schedule Friday and headed back to Tokyo.

Firearms are strictly regulated in Japan, and gun violence is most often associated with the yakuza, the Japanese criminal network. Last year, eight of the 10 shootings in Japan were related to the yakuza, according to the National Police Agency, resulting in one death and four injuries.

Anyone trying to obtain a gun in Japan needs to apply for a permit, attend a class on gun safety and laws, and pass a written test. There is a full-day training course on safe shooting and practicing techniques. There are multiple rounds of checks and verification on the gun owner’s background and health, including information about their family, mental health, personal debt, and criminal record. The gun must be registered with and inspected by police.

QUESTION: (write 150 words)

Does owning a gun make a city or country safer or more dangerous.  Does “fighting fire with fire ever work?”

Give your reasons for your answer and give examples of countries where guns are common and countries where they are not. 

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