Suspect in Shinzo Abe assassination to undergo medical evaluation: Japanese media

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The suspected assassin of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine his mental state at the time of the shooting, according to Japanese media reports. 

The Japan Times reported that the Nara District Court approved a request from the district’s Public Prosecutors Office for the evaluation of 41-year-old Tetsuya Yamagami, the accused shooter. 

Abe was shot and killed earlier this month as he was campaigning for a candidate from his Liberal Democratic Party ahead of elections in the country. Investigators have said that Yamagami told them he shot Abe because of ties between the former prime minister and a religious group that he blamed for bankrupting his mother.

Yamagami will be transferred to a medical facility for the evaluation, where he will stay until Nov. 29, sources told the Times. 

Investigators will pause questioning Yamagami while he is at the facility, and prosecutors will decide on whether to indict him based on the results of the evaluation, the outlet reported.

Yamagami reportedly used a handmade gun to kill Abe and made several others out of steel pipes and tape. 

Gun violence and gun ownership rates are low in Japan relative to other countries, and the country has some of the world’s strictest gun laws. 

Japanese civilians are only allowed to purchase shotguns and air rifles if they undergo a licensing process that includes a mental health evaluation, background check, a written test and an accuracy test at a shooting range. They must go through that process every three years to renew their license. 

Licensed owners must also register their firearms with police, who inspect them annually. 

Abe is reportedly set to receive a state funeral on Sept. 27, Nikkei reported on Wednesday.

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