Tetsuya Yamagami suspect who shot Shinzo Abe

Japan police have launched a murder investigation into the assassination of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe, 67, was pronounced dead by doctors at the Nara Medical University Hospital, at 5:03 p.m local time on Friday, just over five hours after being shot while delivering a campaign speech in front of a small crowd on a street.

Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, admitted to shooting Abe, Nara Nishi police said during a news conference on Friday.

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Yamagami was described as a "totally normal" and seemingly "earnest" person by at least two people who had interacted with him

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"I was thinking about killing the former prime minister there (Okayama),

But I saw that there were admission procedures at the entrance and I felt it would be difficult to get in", he told investigators, according to NHK.

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A former colleague characterized Yamagami as someone who kept to himself.

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The former colleague said there had been no issues with Yamagami for the first six months of his employment, until he started to exhibit "gradual neglect" of work practices, according to Kyodo News Agency.

In March, Yamagami started taking "unauthorized time off" and spoke of "heart issues" and other physical problems, despite having no previous issues with punctuality or attendance.

An unnamed employee at the dispatch agency who interviewed Yamagami for the job described him as "totally normal," but added that he "didn't say much" and "had a slightly gloomy sense to him," according to the Kyodo News Agency.