0518 GMT September 24, 2022
Exit polls for the election for the parliament’s upper house showed Abe’s governing party certain to win a major victory, possibly propelled by what is seen as a wave of sympathy votes in a country still reeling from the shock of Friday’s brazen shooting, AP reported.
Also Sunday, police in western Japan sent the alleged assassin to a local prosecutors’ office for further investigation. A top regional police official acknowledged possible security lapses that allowed the attacker to get so close and fire a bullet at the still-influential former Japanese leader.
Exit polls by NHK public broadcaster and other media showed the governing Liberal Democratic Party was certain to secure a single majority of 125 seats, or half of the upper house, the less powerful of the two chambers. It’s a major boost for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who stands to rule without interruption until a scheduled election in 2025.
In the wake of Abe’s assassination, Sunday’s election had a new meaning, with all political leaders emphasizing the importance of free speech and their pledge not to back down on violence against democracy.
Security was also heightened. On the final day of campaigning Saturday, party leaders avoided fist-bumps – a COVID-19 alternative to handshakes – or other close-proximity friendly gestures they used to enjoy with the public.
Mourners visited the LDP headquarters to lay flowers and pray for Abe as party officials prepared for vote counting inside.
Abe was shot in Nara on Friday and airlifted to a hospital but died of blood loss. Police arrested a former member of Japan’s navy at the scene and confiscated a homemade gun. Several others were later found at his apartment.