- The Washington Times
Friday, July 8, 2022

Japan will proceed with scheduled elections Sunday for the parliament’s upper house despite the stunning assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, government officials said.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has ordered stepped-up security in the wake of the attack, but he told election officials to proceed with the vote.

Japan‘s major parties canceled some events Friday and Mr. Abe‘s ruling Liberal Democratic Party called off planned canvassing by party leaders in the aftermath of the shooting. Cabinet members who were out on the campaign trail were summoned by Mr. Kishida back to Tokyo.

But LDP Secretary-General Toshimitsu Motegi told The Japan Times that weekend campaigning would resume and Sunday’s vote would be held as planned “to show that [we] will not succumb to violence.”

The 67-year-old Mr. Abe, who was Japan‘s longest-serving prime minister when he stepped down for health reasons in 2020, had been giving a stump speech in front of a train station in the Japanese city of Nara on Friday when he was shot and killed. It was just two days before the vote for the Upper House of the Japanese Diet.

He had been actively campaigning for LDP candidates in recent weeks and was said to have particularly strong political support in the Nara region in central Japan.

SEE ALSO: Fatal shooting of Japan’s Shinzo Abe stuns world leaders

Polls before the assassination said the LDP was poised to increase its hold on the Upper House as Mr. Kishida seeks to push through policies on the economy and national defense. Mr. Abe remained a major force in the party despite having stepped down nearly two years ago.

Police on the scene arrested Tetsuya Yamagami, a 41-year-old resident of the city of Nara. Investigators say Mr. Yamagami had served as an officer in the country’s Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years until around 2005. The suspect said he “had grievances” with Mr. Abe but his motivation remains uncertain.

• David R. Sands can be reached at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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